The Rants of Issachar

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pirates of the Canadians

Well I finally found a day relaxing enough to write a blog entry. (And it would be on a subject as boring as copyright wouldn't it...) I keep wanting to write something about what's going on at church these days, but I find it very difficult to write on spiritual subjects in a way that doesn't sound fake even when I'm being genuine.

So for now, I'm just going to write on the fact that video piracy is back in the news. An old bill has been re-introduced in the US Senate that would satellite, digital & internet radio providers to implement measures to prevent recording the signal and the Globe and Mail has a section headline piece in the Weekend Review. (Pirates of the Canadians).

It's always a bit frustrating to read a newspaper article on a subject you actually know about, but I find this one particularly irksome. Frankly, this is a very poor example of journalism, although it's a very good example of selling a third party's lobbying message as your "news". To be fair though, the statement that 50% of cams in the world originate in Canada is interesting.

On the whole though the article is a lobbying piece. What's lacking from the article is any examination of the problem outside of the industry's complaints. Thereis no examination of the unreasonable actions of the industry towards legitimate consumers, and it's difficult to have any sympathy for the movie, television or music industries considering the crap they make me put up with when I try to buy their products.

Copyright issues aside, my time isn't worthless, and I prefer to just pay for the content and not have to deal with the hassle of piracy. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems like piracy is actually easier than buying things legitimately.

1) DVD Region coding. My sister brought Season 2 of ER with her when she came home from Scotland this Christmas. Our DVD player wouldn't play it. Neither would my Windows Media Box. This was a legitimate disc and we couldn't play it.

Of course that's not to say that we didn't play it. (See FairUse Wizard). So the "piracy" tools give me the ability to play legitimate DVD's and the industry preferred equipment does not. Brilliant.

2) DRM-Flags. Recording television is entirely reasonable. I will not organize my life around the TV guide, and the VCR has been around for most of my life. So I record most of my TV and watch it later. Unfortunately, the TV industry would prefer I couldn't record anything. So when I tried to record Smallville, my Media Centre refused to record it and gave me this message.

It's happened before, but I have yet to receive any response from Shaw asking for more information about it. I'm not holding my breath... The issue I have with DRM flags is that they're not enforcing copyright law. They're enforcing what the industry wishes the law was. I really wish I had a MythTV box instead.

Update: 7:48 PM. It happened again. Shaw doesn't want me recording Smallville.

3) Not being able to fast-forward through parts of a DVD. I popped in a DVD this Christmas and not only did the DVD instructions disable all ability to fast-forward or skip the FBI warning, but it did so for the advertising previews as well. It's a minor thing, but I'm find it incredibly annoying. (Not to mention stupid).

So as far as the movie industry's desire that Parliament make recording a cam be made a felony, if it ever comes up I'm going to be asking my MP vote against that idea.

The Canadian Pirate Flag was acquired at If you are the legal copyright holder of the image and do not wish it to be displayed here, please post your contact information in the comments.

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