The imaginary cost of piracy.

A Canadian panel suggests that if it weren’t for people stealing music, then songs would be cheaper:

Upside Software, a company that creates contract management software, has the same problem. Some 35 per cent of its revenues are spent on R&D, so if revenues go down due to pirating, the company has less to spend on it, said Ashif Mawji, president and CEO of Upside Software in Edmonton.

"There’s a direct impact," he said. "If you don’t support the company, they don’t get the full revenue potential – think about the tax impact." It also means the cost of piracy is factored into product pricing. If everyone paid for songs off the Internet, for example, competitive pressure would force prices down (from say, 99 cents a song to 25 cents).

He neglects the fact that in Canada people pay for the downloading of music through levies on blank media. It is unlikely that competitive pressure would force these prices down when record companies are already complaining that 99 cents per song is far too low, even though there are none of the costs associated with the manufacture and distribution of a physical product.

Typical of software companies, he also assumes that every pirated copy equates to a lost sale, and throws in the red herring of lost tax revenue on sales that were never made, and probably never would have been.

Via Digital Copyright Canada.

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Price gouging.

And no, I’m not talking about the price of gasoline.

I currently live in Canada, and I subscribe to the New York Times. I picked up my paper this morning, and noticed the price – $4.50 (U.S.)/$8.40 (Canadian).

Now I’m used to things costing more in Canada – lots more. An article on the front page mentions the price of gas at $3 per gallon. I can’t remember when gas was only $3 per gallon – it’s around $4.25 a gallon here. But the cost of the New York Times dwarfs even that. At an exchange rate of around $0.85 Canadian to $1 US, the Canadian price should be about $5.30, netting the paper a tidy profit of $3.10, or almost 59%.

It’s not as if there is any shipping cost to account for either. The paper is actually printed in Mississauga, Canada, about 45 minutes from where I live.

Is this how newspapers intend to make up for the shortfall from declining readership? By overcharging their readers?

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Misplaced concern.

So the Vatican wants Catholics to boycott "The Da Vinci Code". I don’t understand the fuss. After all, the story is not presented as historical fact; it is a fictional story.

It’s not as if it is a film about priests molesting altar boys, which sadly would be based on historical fact. And the Vatican didn’t seem all that concerned in that case. I grew up Catholic and I will be going to see "The Da Vinci Code".

Via Digg.

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Patenting Everything: #137.

Microsoft has been granted a patent for watching television and chatting at the same time. Ok, it’s a bit more complicated than that, and it happens on the same device.

But seriously folks, this is nothing new, and nothing that complex. Does that mean that people who are using a tv tuner card to watch tv on their PCs wile chatting online are now infringing on Microsoft’s patent?

Via Ars Technica.

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I think therefore I am… logged on.

A Canadian university is researching using your thoughts to authenticate you on your computer:

Their idea of utilizing brain-wave signatures as "pass-thoughts" is based on the premise that brain waves are unique to each individual. Even when thinking of the same thing, the brain’s measurable electrical impulses vary slightly from person to person. Some researchers believe the difference might just be enough to create a system that allows you to log in with your thoughts.

This sounds interesting, but not very secure. Theoretically couldn’t someone in the same room scan your brainwaves and play them back to gain access to your computer? What if you couldn’t concentrate on your pass-thought? And what if you were stressed?

A neat idea though.

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Free speech for some.

My local paper is trumpeting their commitment to free speech today:

Our editorial opinions are crafted by our editorial board, whose members live and work in this community. We publish the views of our Community Editorial Board and our new Youth Community Editorial Board, citizens at large. Our pages are open to the reasonable views of all, including those who differ vociferously with our editorials. The right to free expression and a free press demands room for all these voices.

A year ago I was a member of their community Editorial Board. I wrote something that politely disagreed with the publisher. The editor explained that even though I made a good point the publisher refused to print it.

Here’s what I wrote:

Record publisher Fred Kuntz, wondering why we can’t attract the kind of investment that Silicon Valley or Boston do, suggested that we had a branding problem. I respectfully disagree, having lived and worked in both Boston and Santa Clara. Those areas consist of many small yet competitive towns that co-exist without any sharing of services at all. It is that collection of towns – that area – that attracts people because of its diversity. It offers different things for different people, just as Waterloo Region does.

Here’s what they printed:

I’ve lived and worked in both Boston and Santa Clara in Silicon Valley. Those areas consist of many small, yet competitive towns that co-exist without any sharing of services at all. It is that collection of towns – that area – that attracts people because of its diversity. It offers different things for different people, just as Waterloo Region does.

Their commitment to free speech didn’t seem all that strong then. Fortunately, free speech no longer depends on ownership of printing presses.

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Not worth the risk.

It’s funny that Microsoft, the company that created the browser that pretty much singlehandedly unleashed all of the virus and spyware holes that we have faced over the years, is now concerned about browser security.

I try plenty of software out, but IE7 is one thing I won’t be trying. To me, the risk is just too great.

Besides, once they believe the risk of losing market share to Firefox has passed, they’ll abandon this browser and its users just as they did with the previous version of IE.

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TiVo’d.

I’ve finally joined the ranks of TiVo users in Canada, now that TiVo has support there. I’ve seen plenty of comments from folks in Canada suggesting that TiVo is pointless now that Rogers and Bell have PVRs available. I would suggest that those people simply don’t know what TiVo does. It does a lot more than just record video digitally.

I generally wouldn’t consider paying for television or radio service (other than cable) but TiVo makes it so worthwhile.

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