Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Canada's copyright levy may be flawed: CCFDA

1/26/2005 5:00:00 PM - Channel hopes appeals court ruling will influence government

by Vawn Himmelsbach

A federal court ruling is showing flaws in Canada's copyright levy regime, according to a consortium of high-tech vendors.

The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled to eliminate private copying levies on MP3 players -- a ruling that was welcomed by the Canadian
Coalition for Fair Digital Access (CCFDA).

The CCFDA, an organization of manufacturers, retailers and distributors working to repeal Canada's private copy levy, sees the ruling as evidence of the need to replace the current system with one that responds to the realities of the digital era.

Intel was one manufacturer that went to court to prove its point — and won. "So the fundamental belief is the whole copyright levy has to be rethought and we were right," says Doug Cooper, country manager for Intel of Canada Ltd.

Members hope the ruling will influence the Government of Canada, which intends to move ahead with a package of reforms to the country's copyright laws in the coming months.

"We're saying that eliminating this levy regime has got to be a priority part of that package," says Kevin Evans, co-chair of the CCFDA.

"The Federal Court of Appeal ruling is very helpful because it demonstrates that the levy system is broken and needs to be replaced with something that responds to the realities of the digital era."

The levies are collected by the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), which represents the music industry; it then distributes the money to the owners of the copyrighted material. Since December 1999, when the levy was imposed, the CPCC has collected more than $87 million in levies.

The federal court ruling means that manufacturers have stopped including the levy in the wholesale price of their products. How that filters through to the consumer will depend on the retailer and the nature of the agreement they have with a particular manufacturer.

"It reveals the flaws in the levy in so far as there was some double-dipping going on," said Evans.

Consumers were paying twice: once when they purchased music online, and a second time through a hidden levy on various products -- regardless of how they used those products.

"This is an indiscriminate levy - everyone pays it regardless of whether they're using recording media to record music or to record data," he says. "I buy a lot of CDs and I don't burn music, and yet I'm paying a levy to compensate for the artists and their copyright."

He said the levy was a good idea in its time, conceived in the analog age when people were copying from tape to tape. But the federal court ruling demonstrates the levy is going to be constantly forced to play catch-up to technology, he said."The fact is there are better, more effective ways to directly compensate copyright holders for the use of their work."

Digital rights management is one possible alternative.

It provides a way in which the copyright holder receives direct payment for the use of their product. It could also offer provisions for copying. iTunes is one example of this: digital rights management is used every time you download a song from iTunes.

Technical protection measures (TPM), means the price of the CD includes the right to make a certain number of copies.

But to complicate matters, Canada has signed -- but not ratified -- the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty, which deals with intellectual property rights. If ratified, it would require the Canadian Private Copying Collective to pay a levy to foreign artists, which means the money currently being collected from consumers from would not be sufficient.

"We have expert opinion that suggests the levy would have to be doubled to permit Canada to recognize its national obligations under WIPO," Evans said. "That's going to be completely unpalatable to consumers and underlying just how impractical this levy regime is."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Goodbye Bob

Personal Comment:

I didn't always agree with Bob McAdorey's movie reviews, but he was a class act, and will be missed by millions of people across Ontario. Growing up watching Bob McAdorey was a treat, something many broadcasters today could learn from.

Mac' led heady days of CHUM rock radio
DJ Bob McAdorey as popular as music

`Bon vivant' later a Global TV fixture


Bob McAdorey helped usher in radio's rock `n' roll era and set the musical agenda for a generation of Toronto teens.

Few today realize the power that DJs like McAdorey exerted over Toronto popular culture 40 years ago, when radio ruled. It was a cozy time for music — and then CHUM entered the fray, blew the cobwebs away and ushered in the crazy days of rock broadcasting.

McAdorey, 69, died Saturday at St. Catharines' Hotel Dieu hospital after a long illness.

McAdorey grew up in Niagara Falls and attended Stamford Collegiate, also the alma mater of Titanic director James Cameron. He was in the same graduating class as Barbara Frum, the legendary CBC-TV interviewer.

As a teen, McAdorey won a province-wide public speaking contest and was the popular president of his high school fraternity.

He also played ragtime piano.

"Crowds would go around him," said his older brother, Terry McAdorey.

McAdorey's radio career started in 1953 when the Niagara Falls native first signed on with CHVC near the Falls, introducing listeners to his unique style of easy-going patter.

"I looked like Buddy Holly back then," McAdorey told the Toronto Star in a 1981 interview. "I weighed about 95 pounds and we played songs like `Que Sera Sera.' Everything was a lot softer, smoother then."

After additional stops in London, Guelph, Hamilton and Dawson Creek, McAdorey wound up at Toronto's CHUM, coaxed to climb aboard by resident star DJ Al Boliska.

"I'd lived with Al above a variety store in London and he kept telling me to come to CHUM. I asked for $600 a month, after all Gordie Tapp was making $100 a week, and to my surprise I got the job."

Starting in 1960, McAdorey began a stint that many people consider rock programming at its finest: brash, spontaneous and pretty wild. And the DJs were the stars.

CHUM became the rock station to listen to and McAdorey was the man who told you if a song was going places. The guy who hung out with The Beatles and The Stones when they were in town (and introduced them from the stage) was known simply as ``Mac.''

For years, he hosted the all-important 4 to 7 p.m. slot. CHUM's chart of the week's top records was posted everywhere: in record stores and high school lockers. Eaton's and Simpson's would only stock those 45s that were on the CHUM list. When a new record called "The Unicorn" came in, McAdorey liked it so much he immediately put it on the air and it sold 140,000 copies in Canada in two weeks and made The Irish Rovers.

Thinking back on those heady days, McAdorey said, "We kept it all clean up here. There was no payola as in the U.S. and we deliberately helped a lot of Canadians. It was personality radio. We were promoted like crazy back then. And the pressures were unbelievable. We dictated what records were going to go. And what kids would eat, drink.

"I could have written five books about what happened at CHUM. There'd be one book if I saved my memos. The most frightening thing was the British invasion. There weren't enough cops to handle the crowds — it was out of control."

Off the air, he was a bon vivant, said 72-year-old Terry McAdorey.

"We did a lot of drinking. He was a good friend of Ronnie Hawkins."

In 1968, the CHUM deal fizzled. When owner Al Waters brought in American consultants, McAdorey felt the business was becoming too heavily formatted and left.

McAdorey headed to CFGM in Richmond Hill, which was trying to invade Toronto with a country music format. As morning man, he energized the station. He moved to CFTR in 1970 and after a few years returned to CFGM.

A constant listener was Bill Cunningham, head of Global TV news, and he asked McAdorey to contribute satirical bits, which eventually became a full-time job.

Sample segment: during an airline strike McAdorey headed out to Terminal 2 with bowling equipment and pins to demonstrate the building was only of use as a bowling alley. RCMP officers saw nothing funny in this and whisked him out as the piece was being filmed.

Another time during a city campaign to get dog owners to scoop up deposits, McAdorey and a cameraman went out to do field tests, which consisted of chasing terrified dogs whose owners had failed the test.

By 1980, he was entertainment editor. In 1983, Global tried to fire him when he disagreed over assignments. Global's Three Guys at noon telecast was a big hit (the others: Mike Anscombe and John Dawe) and hundreds of daily phone calls forced management to reconsider. For a time, Global even outperformed CBC's Midday.

McAdorey later got his own afternoon entertainment show where he'd report from movie junkets and comment on the entertainment scene.

I last chatted with him in 2000 when he was railing against Global's retirement-at-65 rule. But he looked frail and had been off for months after a fainting attack.

McAdorey had a farm at Gormley and a place in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Despite his TV success he still yearned for the golden days of radio: "I'd walk into the booth in pyjama tops and jeans and talk one-on-one to people. At least that's the way I always imagined it."

McAdorey leaves daughter Colleen, her husband Jim Tatti, a Global sports broadcaster, and four grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife Willa, daughter Robin and son Terry.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at St. Patrick's Church in Niagara Falls.

With files from Gabe Gonda

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Do US Troops Target Journalists in Iraq?

Davos, Switzerland from the WEF 2005

This fiery topic became a real nightmare today for the Chief News Executive of CNN at what was an initially very mild discussion at the World Economic Forum titled "Will Democracy Survive the Media?".

At a discussion moderated by David R. Gergen, the Director for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, the concept of truth, fairness, and balance in the news was weighed against corporate profit interest, the need for ratings, and how the media can affect democracy. The panel included Richard Sambrook, the worldwide director of BBC radio, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, Abdullah Abdullah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and Eason Jordan, Chief News Executive of CNN. The audience was a mix of journalists, WEF attendees (many from Arab countries), and a US Senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd.

During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.

Due to the nature of the forum, I was able to directly challenge Eason, asking if he had any objective and clear evidence to backup these claims, because if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park. David Gergen was also clearly disturbed and shocked by the allegation that the U.S. would target journalists, foreign or U.S. He had always seen the U.S. military as the providers of safety and rescue for all reporters.

Eason seemed to backpedal quickly, but his initial statements were backed by other members of the audience (one in particular who represented a worldwide journalist group). The ensuing debate was (for lack of better words) a real "sh--storm". What intensified the problem was the fact that the session was a public forum being taped on camera, in front of an international crowd. The other looming shadow on what was going on was the presence of a U.S. Congressman and a U.S. Senator in the middle of some very serious accusations about the U.S. military.

To be fair (and balanced), Eason did backpedal and make a number of statements claiming that he really did not know if what he said was true, and that he did not himself believe it. But when pressed by others, he seemed to waver back and forth between what might have been his beliefs and the realization that he had created a kind of public mess. His statements, his reaction, and the reaction of all in attendance left me perplexed and confused. Many in the crowd, especially those from Arab nations, applauded what he said and called him a "very brave man" for speaking up against the U.S. in a public way amongst a crowd ready to hear anti-US sentiments. I am quite sure that somewhere in the Middle East, right now, his remarks are being printed up in Arab language newspapers as proof that the U.S. is an evil and corrupt nation. That is a real nightmare, because the Arab world is taking something said by a credible leader of the media (CNN!) as the gospel, or koranic truth. What is worse is that I am not really sure what Eason really meant to communicate to us, but I do know that he was quite passionate about it. Members of the audience took away what they wanted to hear, and now they will use it in every vile and twisted way imaginable.

To me, what was said can not be put back into the genie's bottle. So here is my request as a U.S. citizen, and really only a minor, minor player in the whole WEF scheme of things: Congressman Frank and Senator Dodd, you both seem like good and honest men, and Congressman Frank especially seems like someone with a bit of courage (I'm sure Senator Dodd is brave as well). Clear up this mess, use your power and authority as elected leaders, and make transparent what really happened. You must do this to respect the 12 journalists killed and let the world know how and why. Here is another challenge, and this one is for the CNN and the BBC: What the hell happened? Is Eason right or is he wrong? Good journalism calls for digging into and revealing all of the facts (or was everything that was said in the mild part of the discussion about fair coverage and seeking the truth just verbage?).

If what Eason originally said was true, exactly what happened and why needs to become known to the American public and world at large. If it is not, it is an example of how "news" is created by the heat of the moment, without any bearing to reality. If it is true, we need to know if it was official or if it was just some random disgruntled soldiers. The dark scenario, what the rest of the world would love to believe, is that the U.S. is sinister and evil and this is just another example of Darth Bush. Is this the same U.S. that I know and love, or was this just someone accidentally becoming swept up in the anti-U.S. feeling that is all pervasive in Davos (but they love us too, especially Clinton).

The cherry on the whipped cream of this cowpie sundae was poor Abdullah Abdullah, a shining new, fresh scrubbed member of America's grand experiment to export democracy to the Middle East. Here is someone who seemed to be idealistic, full of hope and vigor. What is he thinking about all of this? What kind of role model are we presenting to the fragile new democracies of Afghanistan and Iraq? What we can do, what we must do, is show them how democracy works, and how in an open and free country the truth will get out, and those responsible will be held accountable. The U.S. makes no claims about being perfect - we only make claims that we are open enough to correct our problems, and to admit freely to ourselves and the world if we are wrong.

As a last note, I think that this article is a good pointer to the future of the news: average people, freely saying what they want, as they saw it, for anyone to see. To me, that is freedom of the press.
Canada lacks political will to foster true competitive spirit

by Liam Lahey

Compared to our American cousins, Canadians are uneducated and less prosperous, while our corporations are overtaxed to the point of under-investing in the technologies that will ensure global competitiveness and future prosperity.

So said Roger Martin, chairman for the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity (ICP) and dean of the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.

Speaking to a gathering at Microsoft Canada Co.'s 'Heroes of Innovation' event in Toronto Wednesday, Martin said Canadian businesses, all levels of government, and individuals need to work together to "close the prosperity gap" that has emerged over the last 20 years with the U.S.A.

Martin authored the "Realizing Canada's Prosperity Potential" report, ICP's latest, to gauge Canadian competitiveness, productivity, and economic progress. The findings show Canada's continued under-investment in software, capital equipment, and machinery is one of the key factors hampering business productivity and competitiveness, resulting in a 16 per cent prosperity gap compared to the U.S.

The ICP report also showed from 1991 to 2003, Canada's business community annually invested an average of 13.1 per cent less than U.S. businesses in software, capital equipment, and machinery.

"Investing in software is one way to help increase productivity, drive innovation, and increase our competitiveness on the world stage," Martin said. "We are lucky to be living in a country as prosperous and as equitable as Canada. We are the second most prosperous country in the world of any nation of our size (by population), trailing only the U.S.

"There is one worrisome trend: Our prosperity relative to the only richer country -- the U.S. -- has worsened dramatically over the past 20 years. In 1981, our prosperity gap with the U.S. was a mere $1,800 in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita. In 2003, it was $7,200 in GDP per capita . . . the gap is nearly four times as big making us 16 per cent less prosperous than the U.S."

Referring to GDP as a 'weird term' reserved for geeky number crunchers like himself, Martin said in real terms, it means for the average family of four living in Canada, they're losing $15,000 in after-tax disposable income per year, compared to an American family.

"That is a gigantic number. That's enough to pay for every residential mortgage payment in Canada, every apartment unit in Canada, every new car purchase in Canada, and every vacation taken by Canadians, all lumped together," he said. "This has a huge impact on the living standards of Canadians. Over and above that, it would mean an extra $90 billion a year in federal and provincial tax revenues at the same tax rates (as today)."

Calling these numbers extraordinary, Martin said if we closed the prosperity gap with the U.S., it would reap the biggest expenditure increase in health care, education, and infrastructure in Canadian history.

Canadians have long fancied comparing themselves with Americans. One could say we widely consider ourselves to be better educated that the U.S.

Not so evidently. Citing under-investment as the primary cause for and comprising 40 per cent of the prosperity gap, Martin said individuals have under-invested in their own education and that Canadians are considerably less educated than the U.S. workforce.

Moreover, Canuck companies are investing less in innovation and upgrading their systems generally, he said. So what is it about Canadians? Do we have lousy attitudes towards competition or working hard? Thankfully not; Martin said current corporate tax structures are to blame as they strongly discourage investment.

Even after taking into consideration the cost of the Canadian social safety net, "our effective tax rates are double that of high tax states such as Massachusetts, California, and Illinois; it's 30 per cent versus 15 per cent tax on capital," he said. "This has absolutely got to come down. The corporate taxation policies in Canada are just dumb. This is not a left versus right issue."

Sweden, Finland, and Japan have dramatically lowered tax rates on capital in recent years, he said. "Taxing corporations investing to create high-paying jobs is a dumb idea. We still haven't figured that out.

Regarding federal regulatory barriers to competition as it pertains to the smaller Canadian marketplace, Martin said these issues make it less necessary or immediate for a Canadian firm to invest in innovative and upgraded products and services. We don't need governments to keep our markets closed, he said. Competitive pressure is the key to prosperity, not the problem.

Government spending habits on the other hand, do pose a problem. Martin said while Canada has reduced its investments in future prosperity by 12 per cent per capita over the last decade, the U.S. Government has increased its investments by 26 per cent.

"It's much easier to cut investments than to cut current consumption," he said. "This takes political will and we haven't had enough of that in Canada over the past decade."

There are many solutions to the problem, Martin said, including companies investing in IT as if their corporate lives depended on it. Plus, the government needs to reduce corporate taxation on investment capital and open up the Canadian marketplace and reduce regulatory barriers to competition.

"That's not to say, reduce regulation on safety, the environment, and the like," he said. "It's regulated entry into industries, regulations that banish foreign firms from owning Canadian industries, those are the kinds of regulations specifically that hurts competition."