Julian Fantino – The Worst Political Candidate The Conservatives Could Have Found – Part One

A week ago I had no idea I would be writing about Julian Fantino today. The man is fairly well known, over the years he has held positions as head of the Toronto Police Service, and head of the Ontario Provincial Police. If you haven’t heard his name, you’ve probably spent most of the last quarter century asleep, or playing World of Warcraft.

But while doing research on an article intended to ask Rob Ford if he really did mean to respect the taxpayers (in my mind allowing your police force to beat and intimidate the citizens of your city and visitors to your city isn’t respecting the taxpayers) I kept on running into Fantino. Time after time a source I was using mentioned his name. Time after time a source had information about him, and his actions that I hadn’t seen before.

Continue reading “Julian Fantino – The Worst Political Candidate The Conservatives Could Have Found – Part One”

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Rob Ford – Show Your Respect For Taxpayers By Firing These Police Officers

Rob Ford ran a campaign for Mayor of Toronto based on the concept of respect for taxpayers. Now he’s mayor-elect, taking office in December. Is Rob Ford really going to show respect for taxpayers, or was it all a sham just to get elected?

Now admittedly Rob Ford’s campaign was about financial respect. He has for years complained about city hall wasting taxpayer money. But what use is ‘financial respect’, if he shows no respect for the people themselves?

Continue reading “Rob Ford – Show Your Respect For Taxpayers By Firing These Police Officers”

Evidence Based Legislation – Why The CRIA Doesn't Want To Consider It

I have very little use for the American system of government, but there are times that even they manage to get things right. Take the Government Accounting Office for example. One of it’s functions is to evaluate legislation, and report on costs and benefits. Which it does, and amazingly enough it often contradicts the President, the House of Representatives, The Senate, and the political parties. It is probably the most valuable part of the American government, and I know that too few Americans know of the good work it does for them. It helps the U.S. Congress develop Evidence Based Legislation, at least when Congress pays attention to the GAO.

Continue reading “Evidence Based Legislation – Why The CRIA Doesn't Want To Consider It”

Is There Some Reason That Barry Sookman Refuses To Quote The WIPO Treaty?

In his article Separating copyright fiction from facts about C-32’s TPM provisions, Barry Sookman once again avoids the issue. Curiously, the target of his tirade, Michael Geist also avoids the issue.

As I pointed out earlier this month in my article The TPM Provisions in Bill C-32 Are Not In Compliance With The WIPO Internet Treaties, neither of them seems willing to actually quote the clear wording of the treaty. Mihaly Ficsor, who supposedly was involved in drafting the treaty, never gets around to quoting it either, even when I blasted back at him three times (here, here, and here).

Continue reading “Is There Some Reason That Barry Sookman Refuses To Quote The WIPO Treaty?”

Apple – The Competent Danger to Free Software – Part Two

A while back I wrote an article titled Apple – The Competent Danger to Free Software. It got a lot of hits. It also caused a few people to send me emails, one of which called me a traitor to Free Software.

The problem that everyone ignores, is that if you are a musician, you haven’t really got a lot of choice. Apple’s products are the best available for musicians. Sure, there’s some software available for the Windows platform, but really it’s not all that good. There’s some software available for Linux too, but it’s limited.

Continue reading “Apple – The Competent Danger to Free Software – Part Two”

There's A Whole Lot Of People Coming Out

While I was on vacation, I was at a family dinner, and one of the things that came up was a discussion about a local musician’s divorce. Now I’ve known him, and his ex-wife for over twenty-five years. They’re about my age, and have kids, who are about the same age as my kids, who my kids know, and used to play with.

I knew that they’d divorced. Didn’t know the details. During discussion after dinner, the details came out.

Apparently he’d finally admitted that he was gay. My response was that I wasn’t surprised. Jaws around the room dropped, so I had to explain.

I’d never had any clue that he was gay. Not once. But… He’s my age. He was in high school at the same time (early seventies). If you came out while in high school in the early seventies, the odds were that you’d be beaten to a pulp every day, until you dropped out. It really, truly, was a brutal era to be gay, or lesbian. In fact most people my age, who have come out, often speak of how terrified they were of their own feelings. They knew if they admitted to them, that they would be regarded as sub-human.

And I know a lot of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people. I think that nearly twenty percent of the people I know have what was at one time considered an ‘alternate sexuality’.

Another point was that unlike most couples I knew of who had gotten divorced, there weren’t any major visible problems, which pointed to a major, invisible problem. And many men my age still consider being gay something shameful, to be hidden.

So no, I wasn’t surprised that he was gay. Quite frankly I couldn’t think of any other reason he and his wife would have gotten divorced. In so many ways they were the perfect couple, both really, really, nice people.

So while I’m sad that their marriage ended, I’m also happy that he finally found the courage to admit to his sexuality. I suspect that the kids won’t have any problems with Daddy’s new life. I suspect that his wife has been devastated, and feel for her.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Wednesday November 24, 2010

True Or False? The Latest Stat: Less Than 30,000 Artists Are Actually Earning a Living

Digital Music News published and article titled The Latest Stat: Less Than 30,000 Artists Are Actually Earning a Living… which has been causing a lot of excitement. The problem is, that the people discussing the article don’t appear to have actually read it, or if they did read it, they did so while asleep, because they’ve managed to get everything wrong. Let’s take a look at what was actually written, and what it really means.

Digital Music News interviewed Ian Rogers, the CEO of Top Spin Media, and Ian shared some stats with Top Spin. The stats in question appear to be American stats, keep that in mind, as I’m going to be talking ‘Merican part of the way through this. Now Ian got his stats from Ian Hogarth, the co-founder and CEO of SongKick. SongKick provides a service – if you sign up you get customized event alerts telling you when bands you are interested in are touring your area. They also provide an event calendar, and a way to buy concert tickets. In other words, SongKick is in a position to know a lot about bands that are touring, and the venues they are playing. So the numbers quoted have a rational basis. To quote the article directly:

More specifically, the number is between 25,000 and 30,000, and the original source of that calculation is Songkick cofounder Ian Hogarth.  Essentially, Hogarth analyzed his database of bands by the types of venues being played, and the likely incomes associated with that level of venue.  “You can decide that number is slightly lower or slightly higher, you can argue about what the definition of making a living is, but it’s probably on that order of magnitude,” Rogers told the audience at the Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara (see video below).

Neither Ian Rogers nor Ian Hogarth are claiming that these are exact figures. What they are claiming, is that by working with numbers from a certain database, taking certain factors into account, that these numbers are probably close. Both men have experience in the industry, and I suspect that the numbers quoted do have some foundation in reality. However there are some problems with the numbers that they article doesn’t mention.

Percentage of Professional Musicians per General Population

What is the percentage of professional musicians per general population? No one knows. For that matter, there is no fixed definition of a ‘professional musician’, some argue that if you are paid once, you are no longer an amateur (just like having sex once makes you no longer a virgin). Others argue that you have to be capable of making a living from music to be considered a professional. I don’t think anyone would argue that if you are making your living as a musician that you aren’t a professional.

The population of the United States is 310,232,863 (July 2010 estimate from the CIA World Factbook). This indicates that the percentage of professional musicians in the United States (assuming that ALL professional musicians are in Ian Hogarth’s database) is between 0.009% to 0.010%. That doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? Another way of putting it is that there is approximately 1 professional musician for every 30,000 citizens. That sounds low, but consider, how much do you spend on entertainment in a year? Subtract videos, computer games, etc, etc, and now how much is left for music? Not a lot.

And of course there are costs. So say each of those 30,000 people each spent $5.00, that would give you a total of $150,000.00, but then you have to subtract things like venue rentals, manager’s fees, etc. Play with the figures – maybe everyone spent $50.00, but $40.00 of it went to ITunes. Or maybe they bought Compact Discs or Vinyl. The point being that there is only a limited amount of money available to go towards music as a subset of entertainment, some of it goes to concerts, some of it goes to recorded music, and some of it gets diverted to beer.

How Complete is their Database?

This I don’t know. I know that I’ve looked up several professional musicians who are based in the United States. Some are there. Some aren’t. Some of the information is so outdated that it’s a joke. I wonder if Carla Ulbrich even knows she has a page there? Or Heather Dale? Both are full time musicians, but you wouldn’t know it from SongKick. Disclosure – I know, and like both of these ladies, and yes, you can buy their music on ITunes. Here’s Heather’s website, and here’s Carla’s website.

What About Other Forms of Income?

A lot of artists that I know love ITunes. If you have a Mac, and use Garageband (and most of us do) you can record, edit, and upload your tracks directly, without needing to be signed to a label. This also means that you get to keep all of the cash, rather than splitting it with your label, assuming that they are willing to give you a split in the first place.

A lot of artists sell compact disks and digital video disks at concerts, which is another important source of revenue. Some sell tee shirts or baseball caps. One woman that I knew used to sell kisses. Seriously. She had the most incredible red lipstick, and for $5.00 she’d kiss your shirt. Since she was young, and attractive, she often had a line up of guys (and some girls) wearing white tee-shirts willing to pay.

How Do The Numbers Compare Historically

This is the point where the article falls flat. It gives us a single set of numbers, but no context. Are the number of artists making a living up, down, or the same? My personal guess would be that the numbers have dropped in the United States because of the Recession. If your customers don’t have money, they can’t spend it buying concert tickets to see you. But I could easily be wrong. Maybe the stress is causing people to look for more entertainment, and the number of artists making a living is up (a similar thing happened during the Great Depression, when new types of entertainment flourished, such as the pulp magazines, and talking movies).

The current Recession may have driven an increase in the number of artists trying to make it. After all, if you’ve been laid off from your job, why not pick up your guitar and try to make some money?

The problem is that we don’t know. We have one set of numbers, which we know are incomplete, and nothing to compare them to, which effectively makes the numbers useless. If Ian Hogarth updates his numbers next year, that would give us something to work with.

The Rest of the Article

I just about choked when I read these two paragraphs.

Meanwhile, the costs of actually marketing music effectively is increasing.  “Technology has allowed the cost of production to come down, and the cost of distribution has come down,” Rogers relayed.  “But the cost of marketing has come up, because you have empowered consumers and unlimited choice.”

Not only that, successful marketing is extremely time-consuming, resource-consuming, and the results highly unpredictable.  Welcome to the new music industry, one whose real dynamics are just starting to come to light – and forcing entirely new approaches and expectations.

The cost of marketing is increasing? How? I know people who are ‘making it’ because they can now afford the marketing costs, which they couldn’t before. And he complains about ’empowered consumers’, where I would think that he would be happy that consumers are now more easily able to find what they want.

As to the second paragraph, what has changed? Successful marketing is always a crap shoot. Some things work, some don’t, and some that work right for Jeff won’t work right for Fred. It’s always been this way, and it always will be this way. That’s why people like Stompin’ Tom Connors have made it. In addition to being an incredible songwriter/performer, Stompin’ Tom is a natural marketing genius. Oh, and SongKick says he hasn’t performed since August 2004. Wonder if Stompin’ Tom knew that on September 4th 2010, when he played at MacDonald Island Park, Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Conclusion

OK, so the original article got you all excited. As I’ve demonstrated above, without further numbers, the original is effectively useless. Things might be worse, but they might be better too, and we just don’t know.

But, it would be really useful to have better numbers. For over a century we’ve seen a series of panics, ranging from the infamous 1906 John Philip Sousa letter to the United States Congress complaining about Recording Machines:

These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy…in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.

to the current panics about file sharing. Each time disaster is claimed. Each time numbers are produced, appearing like Athena did, born fully formed from Zeus’s head, with little or no explanation of where they came from, or how they were produced. This is the first time that we’ve been given a reasonable explanation.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Tuesday November 16, 2010

Conor Lenihan, Irish Politician Admits That He Is Bought And Paid For

Yes, this is what he said, though those are not the words he used. Thanks for Torrentfreak for the following:

“Within weeks of being in my current job, and before this High Court ruling by Mr. Justice Charleton, I invited the Internet service providers and telecommunications companies to my office. We had a long discussion, although it was not very profitable,” said Minister of State Conor Lenihan. He said the meeting proved frustrating, with ISPs resisting the notion of a graduated response to file-sharing.

Lenihan went on to say that the French model was not one that Ireland should examine, and that the UK’s Digital Economy Act now faces legal challenges. With that, he gave ISPs and the music industry an ultimatum.

“I am putting down a challenge again today to all those involved in this business,” he told the debate.

“The last thing I want to do is provide further legislation and regulation. If they [ISPs / industry] cannot come to a sensible arrangement however, I will have to legislate and examine the matter in a deeper, more far-seeing way. I have tried my best to bring people together. They should get together.”

Translation:

My friends and suppliers of campaign fund donations asked me to help them. After Mr. Justice Charleton’s made his unfortunate decision, I tried to use my position to force the Internet Service Providers and the Telecommunications Companies to help my friends. They refused to accept the path my friends had suggested.

We are not French, and we are definitely not those damnable British. So I’m going to do the Irish thing and threaten the Internet Service Providers. If they cannot come up with a plan that my friends like, I will use my power as Minister to introduce legislation that will force them to do so. I have tried my best to help my friends, and anyone who get’s in my friend’s way shall pay the price.

Sorry Conor, but we understand you all too clearly. You don’t expect an agreement, and you will ‘sadly’ say that since there isn’t an agreement, legislation is being forced upon you.

Thank you for letting us know that your vote has already been bought and paid for. I’m sure your constituents will understand.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Tuesday November 16, 2010

If Apple Releases An App Store For Windows, It Can Only Be To Kill Microsoft

Fascinating. Daniel at Roughly Drafted has a new article, When will Apple release an App Store for Windows? While the article raises some interesting questions, after reading it, and the comments, it became clear that everyone, including Dan, has missed the main point. Let’s take a step back, and look at what Steve Jobs said:

You know, Apple was in very serious trouble. And what was really clear was that if the game was a zero-sum game where for Apple to win, Microsoft had to lose, then Apple was going to lose. But a lot of people’s heads were still in that place.

Steve was trying to prevent a war with Microsoft, a war that at that time, Apple couldn’t win. His main problem was that while Apple didn’t need to destroy Microsoft to win, Microsoft needed to destroy Apple to win. Whether you love or hate Apple for their policies, the company does not force you to buy from them. They give you an option, in fact a damned good option. If you don’t want to buy it, that’s fine, there are others who do. Apple has been adding value to the Mac platform for a long time, with things like the excellent Garage Band audio recording suite, which is the reason I switched to an Apple MacBook. There isn’t anything like it for Linux at the present time, and the Windows alternatives are far more expensive.

Microsoft is in a different position. Microsoft is an artificial monopoly. The only way an artificial monopoly can survive is by destroying competition. Google is a natural monopoly. Google doesn’t need to destroy the other search engine companies to survive, all it needs to do is continue to provide equal or better service, something that Google excels at.

What is an ‘artificial monopoly’? It’s a monopoly imposed on the consumer through anti-competitive acts. Microsoft’s illegal actions to maintain it’s artificial monopoly are well documented in the European Union Anti-Trust Case against Microsoft and the United States v. Microsoft (my thanks to PJ at Groklaw for hosting these files – they are fascinating to read). Without the ability to force almost everyone to buy Windows, Microsoft could not exist.

And that’s where the conflict comes from. Apple doesn’t need to destroy Microsoft to win, all that Apple has to do is maintain profitability. Apple does this by delivering well designed and engineered products that people like using, and are willing to buy. Microsoft does need to destroy Apple to win, because Apple computers (and phones, and IPods, and IPads, etc.) do not need Windows to operate, thus destroying Microsoft’s artificial monopoly. So Microsoft has no choice. It has to destroy Apple.

Now I don’t know if Steve believed what he was saying or not, when he said that Apple didn’t have to destroy Microsoft to win. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Microsoft has to destroy Apple to win, it has no choice. In fact Microsoft has to destroy Apple, and any other competitors (Linux, BSD, Solaris) just to survive. Heck, Bill Gates has admitted that it’s war:

“What I can’t figure out is why he (Steve Jobs) is even trying (to be the CEO of Apple)? ” wondered Bill. “He knows he can’t win.”

When your competitor has to destroy you to survive, you have a limited number of choices. Turn your back, and let it drive in the knife, or fight back. Apple has been fighting passive/aggressive style for years. Mostly it’s worked. The Mac-PC ads are a good example of this. Never once did they directly say ‘Microsoft Windows is a piece of junk’, but they got the message across quite nicely, and with humor. Apple broke the Windows artificial monopoly by running those ads. They let a lot of people who’d never heard of Apple know that there was an alternative to Windows. In effect it was a declaration of war on Microsoft, even if the ad agency didn’t think of it that way.

Microsoft didn’t like the Mac-PC ads, but what could they do? They could ignore them, which they did for years, all the while loosing market share. They could attempt to fight back against them, which they did in the infamous Jerry Seifield-Bill Gates shoe commercial:

And Microsoft kept on loosing market share. Microsoft’s problem is that every point of operating sytem market share it looses, hurts it three times. A lost sale of Windows, means a potential lost sale of Office, and a potential lost sale of an Exchange Server seat. Microsoft has a lot of divisions, but only three make money. Windows & Windows Live Division, Microsoft Business Division, and Server and Tools (see Microsoft’s most recent 10Q for numbers). And two of the divisions, Microsoft Business Division, and Server and Tools, can’t exist without sales by Windows & Windows Live Division. When Windows & Windows Live Division loses market share, the other two divisions lose sales. Microsoft Windows at one point was the operating system on over 95% of computers sold. Apple is now claiming to hold a 20% market share in North America. The loss of 15% of market share has hit Microsoft’s stock price hard. What was once one of the fastest rising stocks on the market, has seen very little movement in the last ten years, while Apple’s stock price has soared.

And I’m not the only one who’s noticed, I wrote up an article the other day covering Business Insiders reports on the damage, going back to 2007.

There’s obviously more than just Apple involved. Linux has been killing Microsoft in the server market. In a lot of firms the only remaining Microsoft server is the Exchange mail server. Rim, Apple, Symbian, and Android tower over Microsoft in the smartphone segment. Nintendo has totally trashed Microsoft in the console gaming market. Google is so dominant in search that Microsoft has blown billions of dollars, even to the point of trying to pay people to use it’s search engine in a desperate bid to gain market share.

But the most visible damage, is the damage that Apple has done to Microsoft, and that damage is quickly turning Microsoft into a rabid dog. There’s only one way to handle a full blown case of rabies. You kill the animal. Fast. Before it bites someone, and by passing along the disease, kills them too.

What’s the best way for Apple to kill the rabid dog? Simple. Do what Dan suggests. Port Cocoa to Windows. Open a software store for Windows that only contains Cocoa apps. Provide a converter, that converts any OS X Cocoa application into a Windows Cocoa application. Make it easy for people to write cross platform apps, that will run on Windows and OS X. Leverage the same skills that Apple used in setting up the ITunes app store for IPods, and that they are using to set up the ITunes app store for Macs, to set up an ITunes app store for Windows. And then offer the IWork suite, Mail, and Calendar for Windows, at the same price as they offer it for OS X, and watch the defections from Office turn into a flood.

Microsoft Torpedoed by the Apple Windows Application Store

This has two effects, first, it torpedos Microsoft Business Division, the most profitable division that Microsoft has. Second, it eases the cost of migration for millions of more people, all of whom hate Windows, and don’t have the skills to install Linux. And if you don’t have the skills to install Linux yourself, you’ll probably buy Apple. Or maybe you’ll buy Dell, or HP, or Lenovo.

Apple would prefer that you buy Apple of course, but the company’s main problem isn’t the competing computer OEMS, it’s the rabid dog in Redmond. Microsoft has to kill Apple to remain alive, and there is no way Apple is going to give Microsoft a second chance (remember Windows 95 – Windows 95 was only possible because Apple had signed a deal with Microsoft which allowed Microsoft to use some Apple technology, and the agreement was open ended enough that Microsoft was able to convince a court that it allowed Microsoft to built it’s own GUI operating system).

Apple has no choice. While Apple can win without killing Microsoft, Microsoft can’t win without killing Apple. And Microsoft will kill Apple, unless Apple kills Microsoft first.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Saturday November 13, 2010

PS: Note that I’ve mostly left Linux out of this article. Microsoft also has to kill Linux. Oh, and I’ve mostly left Solaris out of this article. Microsoft has to kill Solaris too. And BSD. And ReactOS. And Blackberry OS. And Symbian. To quote Ambassador Londo Mollari, played to perfection by Peter Jurasik in the Television Series Babylon 5:

Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts.

Have fun Microsoft.

Corporate Copyright Scofflaws 0008 – Agence France-Presse

The largest copyright pirates are the large corporations, particularly in the content distribution business. Yes, those companies who scream the loudest that their customers are ‘pirating’ movies, songs, books, etc. In this series, we are going to look at cases where these companies have engaged in large scale copyright infringement, or in other ways have been ripping off artists.

In all cases I will be working with published information. It is possible that this information may not be up to date, or may not accurately reflect the current status of the situation. If I am supplied documentary evidence which shows a different status, I will publish an update. In cases where a lawsuit ensued, and the settlement was sealed, I will not update the published information, unless I am provided with:

1) A copy of the settlement
2) Permission to publish the settlement

While I realize this may cause problems for one or more of the parties involved, I believe in only publishing things I can reference, so that those who read this have an evidence trail to follow.

Note that the above text will appear in every article, if you’ve read it once, feel free to skip down to the divider.

*****

It seems that it’s always the largest media companies that try to steal from the little guy. In this particular case, the little guy actually had a lawyer, and that apparently panicked the thief in question, since they’ve sued him.

Yes, that’s right. Not only did Agence France-Presse use Daniel Morel’s photographs of the devastation caused by the Haiti earthquake without his permission, it even sued him because his lawyer talked about it.

There’s no doubt that Agence France-Presse used the photographs. There’s no doubt that Daniel Morel took them. Agence France-Presse is claiming that since Daniel used Twitter and Twitpic to market them, that he gave them implicit permission to use the photographs. Gee, that kind of sounds like they’ve been taking copyright lessons from Judith Griggs over at Cooks Source.

To make this even more fun, Lisandro Suero, a resident of the Dominican Republic, claimed ownership of the pictures, and sold them to AFP, Getty Images, and several other places. As of today Newsweek is still crediting Suero incorrectly.

Why AFP won’t just pay Daniel is anyone’s guess. Copyright law states that they haven’t got a leg to stand on, possibly they are hoping to run him out of money.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Friday November 12, 2010