The Telecom Trotskyites.

I usually agree with Terence Corcoran of the National Post, but today’s column "The Telecom Trotskyites" couldn’t be further off the mark. Unhappy over the fact that new draconion copyright legislation was not introduced, he has this to say:

If the iTune you download can only be used on your iPod, that’s an assault on your rights. If you can’t resend that movie you just got off the Internet to a dozen friends, your rights are being trampled on. If you want to incorporate part of a television show into your work of art or whatever, you should not have to bother with copyright issues. In this view, just about all corporate attempts to limit use of material, backed by copyright law, are viewed as fundamentally opposed to "basic consumer rights."

I don’t have any intention to resend movies on the internet, but why can’t I play the iTune I paid for on some other device?After all, I paid full price. I fact I paid more that full price considering that all I received was a stream of bits and no physical package. I pay even more too, because in Canada I pay a copyright levy on every blank CD because it is assumed that I steal music.

How would Mr. Corcoran feel if the CD he purchased played only on his home CD player but not on his car? Would he happily purchase a second CD for the car? What if he bought a Microsoft Zune and realized that his Microsoft "PlaysForSure" music no longer played on it? Would he just repurchase the same songs again?

He complains about regulations sought by net neutrality proponents:

Higher up the policy ladder, Telecom Trotskyites fight for any number of regulatory fixes to impose their open-concept plan for the Internet and telecommunications. New technologies, they claim, have created a collective commons that must be wrested from corporate control and turned over to the people.

And he does this with a straight face while asking for new regulations in the form of new copyright legislation.

He really doesn’t like net neutrality:

Another fave topic for these laptop revolutionaries is "net neutrality." The basic objective here is to turn the Internet and broadband into a wide-open system to which all users, no matter what their business or personal interests, should have more or less open access. No telecom giant should allowed to charge more for some users than others. The telecom companies may own the system, but it belongs to the consumers who use it.

Yes the telecom companies may own the system, and no it doesn’t belong to the customers, though they certainly do pay for it. It isn’t provided as a free service by benificent telecom companies. Oddly, all users, no matter what their business interests, pay the same amount for their telephone service. Is he suggesting that some phone customers be charged more than others? Wait – that already happens. Businesses are charged more for phone service than residential users – just as happens for internet service.

People like Mr. Corcoran are so concerned for the rights of business that they forget that there are even such things as consumer rights. You know, the customers?

I don’t want to steal music, but I do want to be able to take the music on the CD I paid for and put it on my iPod. I want to be able to use my TiVo to time-shift when I watch television.Again, these should not amount to breaking a law – it’s a convenience thing, not a content stealing thing.

Not only is Mr. Corcoran opposed to giving me any consumer rights, he also has no problem removing rights I already have.

Honestly, I don’t get the point. I already purchase music and movies legally, and subscribe to Canadian cable, telephone, and internet. The telecom companies won’t wring one more dollar out if me that they are getting already. There are no Canadian record companies to benefit either.

They’ll just have a far more upset customer than they already have. One who is already considering using a US-based mobile service provider.

If they put half the effort into better products and services that they do into trying to convince the government that we are all criminals who can’t be trusted, that might change.


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2 thoughts on “The Telecom Trotskyites.

  1. I totally agree with your post, and like you am actually somewhat stunned this came from the National Post.

    Uninformed, lazy, and simplistic writing or he’s a hypocrite.

    Either option doesn’t reflect well on the credibility of a columnist.

  2. Hi Larry,

    Thanks for a great post in reply to Mr. Corcoran’s column. It is great for Mr. Corcoran to see that people worrying about the future of Copyright law include some of his regular readers as well.

    We need more Canadians from all walks of life and political views voicing our views so that we cannot be simply branded as “the left” or “the XYZ” whatever that may be.


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