This Blog Is Not For Reading

A blog, just like any blog, only more so

  • Subscribe

  • Categories

  • RSS Bob Jonkman’s Microblog

    • New note by bobjonkman 19 March 2023
      A very thoughtful analysis. I've been on the side of "peace from both sides", but I can see the progression that you lay out.
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 19 March 2023
      RT @lnxw48a1 [www bbc co uk] #Turkiye leader Erdogan signals approval of #Finland joining #NATO ... still hesitant on #Sweden's application After the fall of the USSR, I was in favor of abolishing NATO. Frankly, I was too idealistic. I imagined Europe becoming a sort of demilitarized zone but without conflicting armies on each […]
    • Favorite 19 March 2023
      bobjonkman favorited something by lnxw48a1: [www bbc co uk] #Turkiye leader Erdogan signals approval of #Finland joining #NATO ... still hesitant on #Sweden's application After the fall of the USSR, I was in favor of abolishing NATO. Frankly, I was too idealistic. I imagined Europe becoming a sort of demilitarized zone but without conflicting […]
    • New note by bobjonkman 19 March 2023
      There's a natural spring just a short distance from here. Sometime about 30 years ago some kind of piping was added to it, so now the water comes out of a pipe a distance above the ground. People would fill their water cooler bottles there. About 10 years ago a sign was put up "This […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 19 March 2023
      RT @lnxw48a1 Behind this laundromat there is a pipe that continuaously spews water. People drive up and fill bottles, then leave. Trusting. I naturally assume that there is some contaminant and I therefore avoid drinking water from mystery pipes.
    • New note by bobjonkman 19 March 2023
      Why we need elastomeric clothing.
    • New note by bobjonkman 19 March 2023
      The only reason I have a Github account is to provide bug reports and feature requests to projects I want to support. I don't code much, but anything I want to be publicly available is on my own website. Although not in a code repository, which is probably a good idea.
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by steve 18 March 2023
      RT @steve From on Mastodon: In the spirit of deepening the open federated social web, this blog is now powered by ActivityPub, the open federated social standard. This is thanks to the WordPress plugin “activitypub”. You c...
    • Favorite 18 March 2023
      bobjonkman favorited something by steve: From on Mastodon: In the spirit of deepening the open federated social web, this blog is now powered by ActivityPub, the open federated social standard. This is thanks to the WordPress plugin “activitypub”. You c...
    • Favorite 3 March 2023
      bobjonkman favorited something by clacke: Re: (@lnxw48a1) {3EB165E0-5BB1-45D2-9E7D-93B31821F864} A lot of people move to Fedi from Twitter, in Fedi numbers.Not a lot of people move to Fedi from Twitter in Twitter numbers.

Archive for the 'Jesse Brown’s Search Engine' Category

Transcript: The iTax & Fair Dealing Search Engine’s Jesse Brown interviews Charlie Angus

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 3rd April 2010

The Charlie Angus Interview
Jesse Brown’s Search Engine, Podcast #35: The Charlie Angus Interview

Jesse Brown has another great Search Engine interview on copyright, this time with Charlie Angus. Search Engine is released with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Share Alike 2.5 Canada License, so I can post this transcript which is released under the same license (and that won’t hurt Jesse’s feelings).

You can Listen to the podcast while you read the transcript.

[00:00] [theme music]

[00:15] Jesse Brown: Charlie Angus, as many of you know, is the NDP Member of Parliament who’s been the sole voice of reason in Parliament on digital issues. He’s the NDP’s copyright critic, and he’s really the only guy who’s asking tough question, loud questions, and the right questions when Jim Prentice tabled Bill C61 a couple of years back, and since then he’s been the only guy in Parliament trying to shed some
light on the ongoing secret ACTA negotiations. None of this, however, has gotten Charlie Angus a whole lot of press outside of, uh, geeky press like this. What has gotten Charlie Angus in the papers, nationally, in a big way, is a recent Private Member’s Bill he just introduced that proposes to extend the blank media levy to MP3 players. Which means that the tax we pay every time we buy a blank CD or mini-disk as we do all the time these days, would, under Angus’s
proposal, be extended to MP3 players like iPods. The media is calling it the iTax and Charlie Angus’s opponents, notably Heritage Minister James Moore, have seized upon it. And Charlie Angus has been taking something of a beating for putting forth a piece of legislation that his critcs say could result in a 75 dollar tax fee for consumers any time they buy
anything from an MP3 player to a laptop.

[01:34] Now, the outrage over the iTax has obscured another piece of legislation that Charlie Angus has introduced. It is a proposal to extend the notion of Fair Dealing in Canada, a principle you’ve heard a lot about on this program. Of course, in the States they have Fair Use exceptions which govern the circumstances in which copyright doesn’t apply. We have Fair Dealing here in Canada, it’s much more restrictive, and it’s one of the chief things that copyright reform activists have been asking for. Well, Charlie Angus has introduced a proposal to do so. But it isn’t something we’ve heard much about. I recently had a chance to correct that, and to get some clarity on this so-called iTax when I interviewed Charlie Angus in person in Toronto. Here’s how that sounded.

[02:16] [music fades]

[02:19] JB: Hi Charlie.

[02:20] Charlie Angus: Hi, how are you?

[02:22] JB: Pretty good. So explain to me the iTax.

[02:25] CA: Well, this has been a classic Canadian compromise for some time, something that the major, you know, CRIA, major record labels have never really liked. But, it was a recognition that, listen, people are copying music all the time. How do we find a monetizing stream? So, back
in the nineties they decided that for every cassette people bought, fifteen, twenty cents would go to an artists’ fund. That was included in the CDs because people were burning lots of CDs, but nobody is using those technologies any more. So the question is, where do we go to next level? I actually decided to bring this motion forward not so much because I’m interested in the technicalities of a levy or not, but because what’s missing from the conversation on copyright is two
important issues. One is, how are we going to access works, that’s the Fair Dealing, and how are we going to compensate artists? Up ’til now the debate has been lock down or the libertarian digital new world where everything should be free, but lost among those two poles is the issue that music is being copied, art is being traded, and nobody’s getting paid. So either we lock down and litigate, or we have to start looking at means to compensate. So I decided I would kick the ball up the field and see what happened.

[03:42] JB: And I guess we should frame it all with that in mind because this is a Private Member’s Bill and it’s unlikely this is going to become law. But this is a proposal you put forth and you say that it’s been missing from the conversation this question of compensation but in fact, this levy has existed, as you say, on things like blank CDs for ten years, 180 million dollars I think is the figure that’s been collected for artists. So this isn’t a new idea, you’re talking about extending it away from these CDs that nobody uses any more to things like iPods. So, what would it cost if this went through? I mean this is what you’re proposing, so what would it cost for a 64 Gigabyte iPod which is what they’re selling now.

[04:13] CA: Well, this is a very interesting thing. James Moore was out with his Twitter account immediately denouncing this killer tax, we’ll fight the tax to the death, and you know, no taxation without digital representation, or some, some crazy talk. And they threw out this figure of 75 dollars. What was brought before the copyright board in 2005 was anywhere from two dollars for small MP3 player might hold five, six hundred songs, a thousand songs, up to about 20 dollars. So that’s the realm of what’s out there. I think, when you talk about monetizing, finding a monetizing model that works, at the end of the day there’s going to be that tipping point. The consumers aren’t going to pay an extraordinary amount to access their music. But if it’s a reasonable fee, if it’s a fee you don’t really notice on top of it, I think it goes to the areas where we need to start looking at, so the levy already exists, and it has been in place. It’s been part of Canadian copyright law for some time. So I figured, well, rather than trying to invent a new form of compensation there’s one out there, let’s get the discussion on compensation going by saying we’re going to need to update this or it’s going to fall by the wayside.

[05:22] JB: OK, but just to get the brass tacks of this, uh, they are bandying about figures like 75 dollars, and then if it is based on the Gigabyte storage of the device, we’re talking about, we’re in an era now where they’re making 100 dollar drives that can hold a Terabyte of data. So if the levy is tied to the storage space we’re, we could get up there into the hundreds for this levy. But you’re saying it’s not. You’re saying we’re talking about a maximum 20 dollars.

[05:44] CA: This is, this is what was brought forward. And again, these are the fights that go back to the copyright board. Um, the 75 dollar figure is the one the Tories have been bandying about, it wasn’t in any of the proposals previously, uh, so we were, we were looking in the area two to 20 dollars. But again, we gotta get to the bigger issue. It’s all well and good to say we’re going to have access, it’s all well and good for the lobbyist to demand lockdown, but it’s not realistic. So how are we going to find a new way forward. And I think that’t the conversation we could have in Canada. We could actually move towards a progressive copyright model where we’re not suing single moms for their homes. But if we’re not suing single moms for their homes we have to find some other sources of revenue to compensate for the music that’s being traded.

[06:30] JB: But this isn’t an abstract converstation. We have the
example of the last ten years of the CD blank media copying levy to look at. And how successful do you feel that has been in compensating artists for their work as basically trying to find a way to make up for whatever revenue is lost in lost CD sales?

[06:47] CA: Well, to be quite clear, nothing is going to make up for the loss of the immense music that’s been trafficked. But it never was intended in the original levy was to say, listen, a part of the stream we will compensate for. And I think the artists have recognized and, and you know, a lot of Canadian bands are really into the new digital models that are out there, but I’ve been speaking to them about the levy, and they said, listen, you know, it’s not perfect, but we’re starting count more and more on this revenue because what else we have? We’re down to T-shirt sales to keep going in some areas.

[07:20] JB: The CPCC has said before that artists need this to survive and this has been one of the biggest sources of their revenue. Howard Knopf had a look at the numbers, and he broke it down and estimated that if every artist who got something out of this got an equal amount, the average is something like 160 dollars a year. But of course, they don’t all get an equal amount. It’s based on sales figures, and it’s based on FM radio play. So you find a situation where a band like U2 might actually do very well from this blank media levy, but a band like your old band, who might get more play on college radio and the sales are being done through little shops that don’t necessarily make a dent in the soundscape, that don’t even get counted, so it’s an odd situation where it’s entirely possible that a band like yours might have gotten 80 bucks a year, and Canadians are paying Dave Matthews very time they buy a blank CD.

[08:09] CA: Well, I think the reality with copyright is, the people who have hit songs have always done well. People who’ve had number one songs can build a home with it. And the rest of us continue to struggle in grimy bars. That’s the reality of copyright. It’s not a socialist utopian system. But I can tell you from having tried to feed my family on copyright, and it is pretty damn hard to feed a bunch of kids on, on opyright cheques. You know, artists rely on a variety of streams, the SOCAN stream, radio play, does, does the levy need to be more accountable? Perhaps, but even when you’re talking about artists who might get fifteen hundred dollars from that levy, that can make the difference between going back to the studio or not going back to the studio. That’s how enuous we are right now for so many Canadian artists in, in the music business.

[08:58] JB: Here’s a problem that a lot of people have with this. There’s an assumption that is made that music copying is what this is going to be used for. I have used mini-disks for years. That’s what we used when we went on the field to do radio work. We go through these things like crazy. And every time I bought a mini-disk I was paying, I don’t know, 25 or 28 cents, a lot of which went to, you know, Bono. Canadians I think really care about this basic concept of fairness. And in an era where devices are not so specific as that I think people just have a basic problem with the assumption that they’re going to be using any media to copy music when they may not be using it for that at all.

[09:32] CA: Well, one of the funny things that’s happened over the last week is I never met so many digital virgins in my life. Oh, I’ve never done that. Never me. I’ve got people telling me I don’t use my MP3 player to listen to copyrighted music, I listen to other things. It’s like well, what, I wonder which, I’d love to find out what you’re listening to if you’re not listening to copyrighted music. The reality of the levy is to say, listen, it’s not about every single copy is, is covering off the loss of a song. It’s saying here’s probably the only place we can find a revenue stream. It’s a small revenue stream, but everybody trades music. I trade music, my kids trade music, I buy music, I trade copies with my kids, my friends, it’s going on. So when the last week I’ve had everyone e-mailing me, Facebooking me, saying I’ve never traded songs so I shouldn’t have to pay, well, sort of like, there’s a friend artist said to me the other day, said well, I know people who don’t have kids they still have to pay into the public education system. Either we’re going to create a system that tries to find a means to compensate for the music, or we’re going to go to the U.S. model, or the European model of lockdown and litigation, and I don’t think that those are progressive models, so I think a couple of bucks on my iPod might be a good solution. It might, there might be a better solution out there, but we need to start having that conversation. And we need to have it now.

[10:52] JB: Are those the only two options? I mean, that conversation, how do musicians get paid is being had by no-one more passionately than musicians who are finding all kinds of creative ways to get paid in this new paradigm. I guess what I’m asking is, is this a problem that government can fix? I mean, we’re, we’re taking about a, such a fast moving area with technology, I think we’re only a year or two away from a point where it’s not even going to be about solid state hard drives in our pockets, but you know, your storage is going to be in the cloud, and your device is going to get it through the Internet, so you know, taxing a storage device won’t even make sense in a matter of months, potentially.

[11:25] CA: Well, I, again, I made the decision to raise issue of the levy because I think the bigger philosophical discussion has to happen. And people are looking to government to make legislative changes that could have profound implications, and I find everybody on all sides of the copyright debate tend to speak in apocalyptic language, and everybody on the other side is either the evil corporate enemy, or the evil bandit thieves, some third-world booty criminal bazaar. None of that I think at this point is helpful. I’m hoping we’re ready to have the adult conversation on copyright and you’re right, technology is changing a lot. If we brought copyright legislation in five years ago I think, I know the push for politicians was to try and pretend this was 1996 and push back the clock. Clock’s not going back. Is the levy a stop-gap measure? Probably is. But we’re not having the conversation about how artists should be paid. I know artists who are doing phenomenally creative stuff, Canadian artists perhaps more than any other group of musicians in the world, I think, have taken the Internet by force because our markets are small, because it’s so hard to travel. I mean I’ve travelled between Winnipeg and Regina and Calgary, and know how hard it is to maintain those markets. But that being said, it doesn’t compensate for the loss of music when you put twenty or thirty thousand dollars into a recording and people are making copies, you should be able to get your share.

[12:49] JB: We may never agree on this, but the idea that when an industry shift and things move around they’re not going to compensate exactly. The new ways of making money are not going to immediately compensate for what was lost. I think traditionally they’ve ususally ultimately exceeded the old way, in terms of opportunities that technology has brought out, what VHS brought to the movie inudstry. But in the short termpeople suffer, and it seems like you’re suggesting a greater role for government and creating a stop-gap measure to ameliorate that suffering.

[13:16] CA: People are looking to government right now to update our copyright legislation, and people are suggesting a lockdown, they’re suggesting searching your iPod at the airports, they’re suggesting forcing your ISP to snoop on you so that whatever you download you get the three strikes provision and you’re out. That’s where we’re going unless we can begin to say, no, the role of government is to find a way to allow access but if we’re allowing access we’re also going to have to allow something for copyrighted works. And as you said in terms of the uh, short term business models change, and I’m fully aware of what the roller piano did, and how it was a threat to musicians, and how the record player was a threat to musicians, and then radio was a threat to the record companies, I mean we went on and on and on, and each time we change. But we’re not in a short period, we’re in a very long dramatic transformation of every level of industry and the reality is, and musicians fully know this more than anyone, they’re never going to be compensated fully for what’s going on out there. They’re not expecting to be. But they’re saying there has to be some revenue stream so it’s either on the levy, it’s either going to be in, in the form of something else, or it’s giong to be in the form of the coporate, uh, lockdown, and I don’t want to go down that road.

[14:30] JB: I guess one concern I have is that, uh, like you’ve said a couple of times, the bigger question is what we’re going to do with copyright on a larger scale in this county. And I think there are some problems with the fairness of this levy, and I hope they don’t obscure whatever, uh, argument for common sense is being made in that larger question. Let’s, let’s, let’s talk about that larger question, let’s talk about Fair Dealing itself. We cover all aspects of copyright reform on this show. The parody exception is of particular interest to me, andjust bring listeners up to speed on this, Fair Use in the United States, of course, allows for exceptions to copyright when you’re making fun of stuff. And Jon Stewart can play clips of what’s happening in the Senate if he’s making fun of it. We have an exception under Fair Dealing in Canada for news coverage and criticism. We don’t have one for parody, for satire. Is that covered in this new approach to Fair Dealing that you’re proposing?

[15:22] CA: Well, the uh, the changes actually sort of broaden it so that there’s the principle of Fair Dealing because that, it’s been recognized by the Supreme Court, as the user has a right to Fair Dealing but right now it’s on a case by case basis. You have to prove it every time. We actually have in the Copyright Act of Canada 1997 that they made it legal to write on an easel with a marker if you were in a classroom. And it’s actually says that.

[15:49] JB: And they say we’re lax on copyright, that has to be written down.

[15:51] CA: I, I think we show how just, uh, retentive we are on them. Again, the Fair Dealing motion, I wasn’t too concerned about exactly how the wording was going to be. I looked around for what good models were out there, and it’s general to allow for criticism, to allow for research, to allow for parody, because tying it with the levy is to say, listen, on the last few rounds of copyright you guys have missed
out key elements, so here we are, I’m putting it out, here’s the flag, everyone can start shooting at it now. But we need to have the Fair Dealing discussion at the same time we’re talking about compensation.

[16:22] JB: Let’s talk about Minister Moore and Minister Clement. You’re the NDP’s copyright critic, so it’s your job to critise the Conservative’s approach to copyright. There is a conception, and, you know, I feel that these guys get it more than the last guy. And that we’re better off with Moore and Clement than we were were with Prentice. Do you agree?

[16:46] CA: Well, I mean, Jim Prentice is from my home town, so I have to always say something nice about him, but, um, Bill C61 was a dog’s breakfast of trying to find rules and exemptions and it was all again making the digital lock sacrosanct so you could not under any circumstance break a digital lock. I find that the Tories live in a nuance-free zone. They’re either really tough on crime, or their new thing is they’re tax fighters. So it depends on what hat they’re wearing. So the last time they were wearing the hat it was tough on crime. We’ve got to stop these kids from breaking in and stealing little old ladies’ cassettes. [laughs] Digital product. What I find funny with Clement and Moore this last week, um, in terms of the response to me, was I found it was a little juvenile. I mean, here I am in the fourth party putting out a Private Member’s Bill that everybody knows isn’t going to be debated, and there’s Jimmy with his tweet saying death to taxes, we’ll fight taxes, and uh, and I was thinking this is amazing in a way, uh, he probably inadvertently went further than the Pirate Party in Sweden has ever gone in that copyright is a tax that has to be fought to the death. So I don’t know if he thought that through, but it’s uh, again I’m encouraging Tony and James to have a, let’s put down the Tory rhetoric and war machine for a second and discuss the issue.

[18:06] JB: I don’t mean to keep harping on this, but didn’t you handthem that one? I mean, that’s a crowd pleaser every time, you know. That they’re the guys that are trying to stop the, the NDP from taxing your iPod. In all of your criticism of them up to date you’ve got to be the guy arguing common sense and appealing in that basic level to kind of, you know, Joe Public, and, and, you know, you kind of gave them like a freebie, I think there’s a reason why they seized upon that bill of yours.

[18:28] CA: Well, I actually think it was dumbing it down to an even lower level than we’ve been in the past, where I mean, I’ve alwaysspoken about the need to represent the public interest. But when the Conservatives are saying, listen, we already have government programs for artists, so we’re not going to, we hate taxes. Are they saying that because we have the Canada Council means you can do whatever you want, downloading whatever you, you think. I mean, that’s, that’s a very libertarian argument that the Conservatives on the other hand with their tough on crime approach wouldn’t support. And so sure, they want to get the one up on me, but it’s not the level of debate we need on this. We’ve got to get serious about this. I’d like to sit down with Tony Clement, sat down with him a number of times, talked about copyright, but I want to know that at the end of the day they’re looking at the big picture and I’m never convinced with these guys that they are, but I’m always optimistic that somebody after all these years is going to see common sense and figure we’ve got to start moving forward instead of trying to go back.

[19:30] JB: Do they get it, at least? I mean, it seemed like Minister Prentice when he was in charge of this didn’t have a basic understanding of the technology itself. And Moore has, has made a big show of putting an iPod on his web page and he tweets and, uh, he seems to be advertising the fact that they are much more digitally literate than their predecessor. Do you get that sense?

[19:48] CA: Well, I mean they’re, they’re certainly putting on a big show. I mean, James is the iPod minister, he’s the guy who can say everything he knows about the world in 140 characters. So that’s, that apparently makes you on Parliament Hill really hot and smart. But at the same time we have the government over in Seoul negotiating on ACTA, provisions that would completely undermine Canada’s right to establish new copyrights. So what is it, boys? Are you guys out there with your 10,000 songs on your iPods fighting for digital rights and death to taxes, or are you over in the ACTA negotiations, supporting some very regressive moves that could really undermine the depth, development digital economy. I’d like them to come clean with this, and say where they’re going in terms of digital planning and where they’re going to go with legislation.

[20:34] JB: Is it possible they don’t even know? Is it possible that while they were trying to kind of push forward the ball on copyright and take these consultations into a new bill, that the whole question got swiped from them by ACTA and, I guess, handed over to Peter van Loan?

[20:47] CA: I think very my, my real concern is that there are two plays going on, as you point out. One is they, they realize that bill C61 they were way off base, nobody bought into Bill C61. It was DOA the day it was announced. So they went and they did this slap-dash tour across Canada and they heard people are active, people are passionate, everybody’s involved in copyright. So they’ve been working on how to make these provisions. My sense is they’re probably going to cool down a bit on the digital locks. Uh, there may be something in there for FairDealing. I don’t know what they’re going to do in terms of notice and notice, or notice and takedown. But, the PMO has another agenda as well, which is, we have to look very close to their U.S. allies, and the U.S. trade lobby puts enormous pressure on countries. Especially Canada, because they see us as the fifty-first state, to fall in line with the DMCA style legislation. So, I feel there is a bit of a schizophrenic movement, and I don’t think the Conservatives are really sure yet where they’re going to come down. The bill’s supposed to come down this, before summer, but I’ve heard that so many times that I’ll, I’ll believe it when I see it.

[21:50] JB: And, where do you think ACTA is going? I mean, just this week the entire document was leaked, it’s funny how they’re trying to lock down the world’s digital usage and they can’t lock down their own legislation. Are the fears about this justified? Is this going to be something Canada signs and if Canada signs it, is it going to get ratified into law?

[21:09] CA: I’m very disturbed about ACTA because I feel if you’re going to negotiate international treaties like WIPO you have to have the NGOs there, you have to have transparency. How many rounds of ACTA have we gone through and they’ve tried to keep it from being transparent? Whenever you’re hiding something, whenever you’re doing it behind closed doors, that tells you, the public, that they’re people who are goes behind closed doors means do not want to be seen. And I think it’s the U.S. entertainment lobby is driving this, they’re trying to get as far as they can before they get smoked out. I love what the European activists called it, the, the vampire solution, that is, we start to shine light on them until wither up and they all have to crawl back to their corporate holes. But there are a number of very disturbing potential provisions in ACTA and it would have profound implications for Canada’s training abilities if the Europeans sign on to something, the Americans sign on to something, and we’re trying to chart our own way. They can put enormous pressure on us at that point. That being said, I think ACTA has hit a few serious holes and, um, I feel the more the public get involved, the more ACTA is either going to have to change or it’s going to be made irrelevant.

[23:18] JB: Charlie Angus, thank you for finding the time to talk to me today.

[23:21] CA: Thanks a lot for having me on.

[23:22] [theme music]

[23:25] JB: Search Engine is produced by me, and a community of listeners who are fully aware of what the roller piano did. E-mail me with freelance pitches and story tips at The show’s log is at and I’m on Twitter @jessebrown. This show is released with a Creative Commons license so you don’t need a parody exemption to make fun of it, but you will be hurting my feelings. Quick note about the video podcast I keep promising you. It’s done! It’s been done for a while. I think it’s our best one yet. But there are some editorial complications and I’m doing everything I can to get it online as soon as I can. The next audio podcast will be up first thing Tuesday morning.

[24:10] [music fades]

[24:16] [end]

Posted in Big media, copyright, filesharing, Internet, Jesse Brown's Search Engine, music | 2 Comments »

Transcript: The Neutral Throttle? An interview with CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 31st October 2009

Search Engine Episode 15 logo

Search Engine Episode 15 logo

Thanx to the generous licensing terms on Jesse Brown‘s awesome podcast Search Engine, I’m allowed to remix his shows. I have chosen to mix it from audio to text — I present to you Episode 15: The Neutral Throttle? An interview with CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein, The Transcript.

To listen to the show as you’re reading along get the podcast (from the Search Engine Blog, MP3, 5.8 MBytes).

Naturally, this transcript is released under the same Creative Commons license as the podcast: Creative Commons LicenseTranscript of Search Engine #15 by Bob Jonkman, based on work by Jesse Brown is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License

If you should find any errors in the transcript please let me know or leave a comment.

Update 1 November 2009: Added anchor links for times, the better to provide citation links when you write your blog post dissecting the interview

I would have put a notice in the comments of the Search Engine Blog, but you need to have a user ID, and the Terms of Use are too onerous for me — they say:

If you didn’t make it, you don’t own it

which is just plain wrong (I own lots of things I didn’t make), and

By uploading a comment or idea in any format, you are affirming that you own it, and you are transferring the copyright to TVO. That means we can use it in any way we choose, in any media, anywhere, for as long as we want.

No way, dudes. That’s why I have my own blog.

(and what’s with the teeny-tiny text box for the license? Trying to discourage people from reading it?)

Search Engine Transcript

The Neutral Throttle? An interview with CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein

Podcast released 26 October 2009

00:00 [Theme Music]

00:15 Jesse Brown: OK, I’ll admit it. I’m confused. I don’t know what to make of the CRTC’s ruling. I wanted answers. I wanted to know what the rules are going to be. I wanted to know, Can ISPs continue to censor the Web to support their own polictical agendas, like Telus did when they blocked access to labour union blogs during that 2005 strike? Can ISPs continue to throttle the Web, reducing our transfer speeds to as little as one-and-a-half percent of what they advertise and sell to us, like Rogers and Bell do every day? Can ISPs in Canada continue to spy on our Web transfers through Deep Packet Inspection? Can they keep ganging up on any newcomer company who dares to offer consumers something different? Can they keep doing so in the name of supposedly clogged up Interweb pipes? That they refuse to actuallly show us? Can they keep giving us some of the slowest and priciest broadband service in the first world, as study after independent study has proven that they do? Can they keep acting like they own the Internet? Or will we have an open Internet in Canada? Will we have Net Neutrality? Like they’re going to have in America?

01:34 JB: Well, the CRTC’s ruling is out. And I still don’t know. Maybe you know? Maybe you’re one of the thousands of Canadians who took to Web in outrage last week, certain that the CRTC’s ruling was an anti-Net Neutrality ruling. I mean, you’d certainly have some support for that position. You’d have the Globe and Mail who reported that Canada’s big Internet carriers scored a major victory: the right to manage traffic. You’d have agreement from the NDP’s Charlie Angus, who said that the CRTC has left the wolves in charge of the henhouse. You’d even have one of the wolves agreeing with them — Bell Canada’s Mirko Bibic, who said that the CRTC’s ruling proves that, quote, we’re the experts, and we get the flexibility to determine how to manage OUR networks.

02:25 JB: But, you also have people like Michael Geist saying that the CRTC ruling unquestionably advances the ball. You have pro-Net Neutrality companies like Google coming out in support of the ruling, praising it. I spoke to the Canada policy lawyer, Jacob Glick, who you’ve heard on the show before, and he said that by his interpretation the CRTC ruling clearly prohibits the kind of throttling that’s going on today.

02:51 JB: In other words, there’s some pretty credible voices out there who are reading this ruling as a pretty good one, as a step in the direction of Net Neutrality. As something that’s, I guess, the complete opposite of the total ISP capitulation that the newspapers, the Canadian public, and the ISPs seem to think that it is.

03:10 JB: So what’s the deal? Who can clear the CRTC ruling up for me? Well there’s probably nobody better suited to that job than the guy who runs the place. CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein. Mr. Chairman, hello.

03:22 Konrad von Finckenstein: Hello, Jesse.

03:24 JB: I’ve asked the listeners of this show to submit some questions to you and, uh, I’d like to pose a few of them to you now.

03:30 KvF: Sure, OK, go ahead.

03:32 JB: Very plainly, can Internet Service Providers under this ruling keep throttling peer-to-peer traffic the way that they’ve been doing?

03:41 KvF: Now I mean, I think you… miss the prom, principle view to just go right away to throttling, the whole idea is to try to find the balance between the competing interest, the competing interest of users to use the Internet to the maximum extent, to be as innovative and uh, and experimental as they can, versus the legitimate interest of Internet providers to protect the integrity of their networks and to make sure that all users have an equal opportunity. So what we said, we, we took this very principle to port, we said first of all, the best way to deal with all of that is to build extra infrastructure so that everybody has access, and that you don’t even get into congestion issue. If you do have to, uh, use Internet traffic management process, first of all tell people what you’re doing and publishing so they know in advance, and then use economic ones. IE. Make those people who are Internet hogs pay first of all. And then if that doesn’t work and you can’t then only can you control technical, uh, issues, and one of them is what you call throttling, which is, in effect slowing down somebody’s [indistinct(1)] but if you go that far then you have to justify yourself and here’s the framework of analysis that we will apply and we will look at it and we will, uh, if there is a complaint, or if you come on us and ask for approval beforehand this is how we’re going to test it.

05:08 JB: Is that a yes or a no? I mean, uh, we know that Bell and Rogers have been throttling. Do they have to stop doing that? Give people notice, appeal to you? Is this changing the policies that are already in place?

05:19 KvF: Look, is, we only did one ruling so far and that was on the CAIP request and there we said, it is not discriminatory, it is not preferential, and therefore we allowed Bell to do it. Now as you know, there’s a review of vary on it, and that will have to be, we will have to look and we haven’t decided on that yet. So if for to clearly, if, is, if, we, uh, review it we will apply the test that you just heard. I don’t think, uh, and we will see what the outcome will be.

05:53 JB: Well that brings me to another question that somebody submitted to me: Are you going to be watching to see how they behave? Are you actively monitoring the ISPs to see if they’re compliant, or are you going to be waiting? Is the onus on the consumer and the Internet user to complain to you at which point you move towards a ruling?

06:09 KvF: The onus is both on the Inter, Internet Service Providers and the users. The Internet Service Providers now, uh, know what the rules are, and they should structure themselves accordingly, they have to give notice, if they want to use technical or economical means and they have to uh, follow the, the guidelines. The exact same thing users who find they’re being, uh, impaired in their use because of activities by the ISPs now having a basis they can lodge complaints knowing that if there are complaints will be looked at through the analytical frameworks that we set out in our decision.

06:46 JB: The ruling mentions that traffic shaping should only be employed as a last resort. Define “last resort”. What, what does that mean?

06:56 KvF: You are always, uh, you are trying to get, uh, get me to define, principles, it’s, it’s very difficult. Obviously when we say “last resort” it’s saying, you know, part of it doesn’t sound so reasonable, because reasonable is in there too, and so you have to, you know, set, in the ISP who says “I have to resort to this, I appeal”, has to basically make out the case that he cannot to himself and later on to us when comes before us. He didn’t have to cover the ability to, uh, to provide access, uh, extra access to the necessary technological in, innovation, or if he did that there was no chance of getting return on his investment in a reasonable period of time. And it depends on who the ISP is, what the service is, and what the, what the requirement is driving him to the need for Internet traffic management practices.

07:57 JB: You’re right that I am trying to get you to define the principles because I find them a little bit fuzzy. And I guess the ruling explicitly states these are not “rules” but these are guidelines that are set–

08:07 KvF: Precisely. You’re trying to get me to convert the principles to guideline tests and we said there are no guideline tests because the situation is fluid, technology changes all the time, it’s a very dynamic solution. All I can guarantee you we’ll have the principled approach, and we will approach these principles, and here they are.

08:24 JB: Bell and Rogers, they’ve come out saying that they feel that they’re already in compliance with these rulings. This, this ruling changes nothing, that they say they’re fine with it because they’re already doing what you suggest.

08:35 KvF: I hope, hope that’s true. I hope that’s true. We shall see. You know, if, uh, you, for instance, uh, advanced technological user, and we, let’s assume for argument’s sake you’re a client of Rogers find they’re not, then, then first of all you going to go on the Web site and see who’s the in, uh, apply internet management traffic practices, or have they been, perhaps they’ve been described there, and does it say what the effects of those are. If they aren’t, and you find out they applied them anyway what you going to do? You’re going to launch a complaint and we will look into it. On the other hand, if they are exactly doing what they’re saying, then wonderful, and then we have total compliance, which is the whole idea.

09:13 JB: What happens if you find that they have not been following these guidelines? Are there specific penalties?

09:19 KvF: Well, they haven’t first then we will issue orders telling them to, what they have to do to comply. That’s how the whole licensing system works, you know. You are supposed to act in accordance to the, of the dictates of the regulator, so if the regulator says you cannot do that, or you cannot only do that if you provide compensation, or only if you, uh, uh, let’s say for argument’s sake, they uh, they slowed down from, from two to eight all afternoon and we find out that this is not justified, it doesn’t pass our tests, et cetera, we say you really have only shown me that the congestion which is six to eight, and if I buy everything else, fine, you can slow down but only say, you can only do it from six to eight. And they will do that. If they don’t do that, follow our order in court, then they get a court order to get them to do it, so.

10:13 JB: Let me ask you about that congestion question because this has been very controversial. The Internet Service Providers entire argument against Net Neutrality is based on this idea that they are facing congestion on the networks, and yet they have never proven to the public that this is in fact the case. Now I understand that some of the information that was presented to the CRTC, as you were looking at this problem, was kept confidential. Can I infer from this ruling that you agree with the ISPs? That they have proven to you that in fact congestion does occur to the extent that they say it occurs? Or, or at all for that matter?

10:44 [silence]

10:48 KvF: You say it has never been proven by those, I don’t know where, uh, on what basis you make that assumption. And, and, and obviously, the only way you can prove it is when, if there’s been actually breakdown of communications or, people, uh, people have been slowed down, et cetera. But there is no interest in, or capacity on the internet I think that is self-evident. Do you really have to wait ’til there is a major congestion and a major there, impairment of people’s use before you say “Hey, that’s a problem, something has to be done about it”?

11:21 JB: No, no, quite to the contrary. I’m not waiting for there to be an instance of congestion for the Internet to experience some huge cataclysmic brownout which has been predicted but has never happened.

11:30 KvF: Right.

11:31 JB: Instead, uh, the ISPs have consistently held that their information about their networks is proprietary information, even though there’s a, an intense amount of public, uh, monies that have gone into the building of those networks and they’re built over private and public land, through the right-of-way laws. We don’t know, just the data they have over how much capacity is being used, how much dark fibre is left. Some people have suggested that they’re not using a fraction of it. And yet they point to congestion as the cause of practices which might just be practices that are in their best business interests. So–

12:30 KvF: Well, well just a second. You know, you have, uh, If somebody comes forward and says this, uh, Internet Service Provider is it in, applying Internet Traffic Management, and he is, uh, this, that, unfairly, uh, discriminating against me or, uh, it may impairs my use, and the first, then the onus, as we set out in our, uh, the, our decision, is on the ISP to come forward and say either “No I’m doing it” or “Yes I’m doing it and I’m driven to it by this and this” and you go though the analytical framework. So you’re positing right away that actually that, that is happening. I don’t, you have to, that’s exactly what you are trying to do, trying to be preventive and, uh, prompt. If and when congestion arises, if it doesn’t arise then of course there’s no issue. If it does arise, then, as I said before, that’s, they may build extra infrastructure, if not they put in economic measures to, to have people pay for the use and thereby modu, modulate the use. If that doesn’t work then only you go to technical ones. Then, uh, uh, you want me to prove a disaster before it has happened. How can I do that?

13:17 JB: Is this really such a great mystery? Uh, the congestion they claim has already occurred and the throttling has already occurred. The complaints from the public have been loud and clear. All of this has been brought forward to you. Is this really a wait-and-see kind of a situation?

13:28 KvF: No but its, throttling has occurred to CAIP. So, throttling has occurred because Bell said they were running out of capacity during those hours, those hours so they came in close to the limits of their capacity. And in that decision when we heard it, you know, on the basis of the evidence we said “yeah, yeah, there’s a reasonable apprehension and therefore you’re, you’re entitled to take the measures that you were, were taking”. That’s how it always have, you know, hopefuly we won’t have cases where there has been a brownout and then people complain that says the question always is, are they close enough to brownout that they have to resort to these extreme measures.

14:05 JB: Transparency is one of the issues that this ruling speaks about.

14:08 KvF: Yeah.

14:08 JB: And is there, is there any onus on the ISPs to be more transparent about their networks to the public?

14:12 KvF: Very much so. We, we heard from some ISPs. We, through the tests have termed that they’ve, there’s really nothing on the Internet about this. And we felt, you know, if you’re already a customer you should know. You should know what it is, ’cause say for arguments sake, you’re a customer of ISP X. If ISP X employs, uh, a TM piece it has to say on it, that web site, this is what we’re doing, ta ra ta. And by the way, this is how, how it’s going to affect you, Mister User.” So that you then have these choice of saying “Well there, I am sorry, that’s unacceptable, I go to somebody else.” Or else you say “Well that seems, that seems sense, perfectly sensible, that makes sense, uh, and, and I accept it.” But you should have is the ability to choice, of choice as a consumer, and you won’t have that unless you are informed. And that’s why we’re saying transparency is absolutely vital. You have to put it on your Web site, you have to explain that you do it and what the effect is. And you also have to people, take people, give people reasonable notice so they can make an informed choice and not locked in.

15:15 JB: Well, I, I wonder if, uh, if the ISPs might just state that they’re going to do it, and then do it and the consumer options will be as limited as they are now.

15:22 KvF: Don’t forget, there’s a competitive advantage to not doing it, so if one guy does doesn’t mean the other one will do it as well.

15:28 JB: The FCC, uh, has just announced that they are going forward with much more rigid open Internet Net Neutrality guidelines. Do you feel that there is a risk of Canada falling further behind the United States in terms of the open Internet and innovation?

15:42 [silence]

15:44 KvF: Well, first off I don’t accept that we’ve fallen behind, et cetera. You have to look at all these numbers, et cetera. Specially in the context of the population based geography and the democratic distribution. To make an outright comparison between us and the States I think, it is comparing apples and oranges. So if you, if you look at it, and, put in the necessary qualifiers or weights in terms of, as I say, democra, uh, demographic distribution, geography and population base, we’re doing very well. And, uh, yes we can do better, we can always do better. But the rules that we’ve made, we made for the Canadian context. Now they, they’re not for the American context, would have surprised me very much if the US would have used similar rules. But they have a different market, and they have far more players, and they have a far bigger population base.

16:33 JB: Mr. Chairman, I won’t take up too much of your time. I have one final question for you. It’s part of my job, as it is part of yours, to take the temperature of the Canadian public, uh, on these issues.

16:41 KvF: Hmm.

16:41 JB: So I’ve followed the conversations that people are having online and people write to me about it, and I take part in those converations. And I’m sure you do too. I don’t think I’m exaggerating, at all, to say that Canadians feel, with, with certain justification, that they’re getting ripped off. By Internet Service Providers, they, they feel that they pay more than many other parts of the developed world, and that they’re getting less, and there’s studies to back this up. They feel they’re not getting the speeds and the services they’re promised that are advertised. They feel they don’t have as much consumer choice as they should and they’re forced to pay usurous rates to companies that they don’t like. And they’re afraid that our country is falling further and further behind. And that no-one’s really standing up for them. As of today I think, uh, almost 9,000 Canadians have signed a petition to dissolve the CRTC. C-c-can you speak to these Canadians and their concerns, ’cause I think that is the predominiant feeling, not that the CRTC should be dissolved, but that we’re getting ripped off by Internet Service Providers.

17:35 KvF: No, my, uh, uh, Can’t think dissolving the CRTC would have, uh, would help you in terms of Internet access. But to the, to the bigger point that you’re, you’re making. Yes, there may be, there may be a few in that further fear, uh, fear falling behind. I, I don’t, uh, haven’t seen any studies, I have, I have certainly, uh, seen, that a lot of commentators feel about that.

17:56 JB: Oh I can point to, to–

17:56 KvF: And I, uh, I, and I think you know we also do see clearly that governments have woken up and that broadband, more broadband is a necessity. And you see various provincial initiatives, you see some federal initiatives. Are there enough of them? Not really. Uh, clearly this is the very exploding area and the use is, is making demands on the infrastructure which is not being met pres, presently and we should pay attention to it. I mean, this, I think, once you only look at one aspect, the whole aspect is, is, is sort of digital red revolution and the need for digital, national digital strategy, which includes, in effect, a lot of expansion of the Internet, more of infrastructure, et cetera. I think everybody recognizes the need for it. Uh, to what extent, the government should do it, to what extent private individual do it, and what extent you can do it by, uh, by encouraging more players to enter the field, et cetera. Those are the old issues, really, of so macro-economics policies is for the government to decide, not for me as a regulator, CRTC. I can only deal with the existing infrastructure is there, and make sure that our measures are not seen as a break to further development of the broadband.

19:07 JB: Chairman von Finckenstein, thank you very much for your time today.

19:10 KvF: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Bye-bye.

19:12 [Theme Music]

19:19 JB: Search Engine is produced by me, and a community of Internet hogs. E-mail me story tips and freelance pitches at You can follow me on Twitter @jessebrown Our Facebook group is SearchEngine TVO, and come read the blog at The next podcast will be up first thing Tuesday morning.

19:42 [Theme Music]

20:07 [end]

Posted in Bell Canada, CRTC, Jesse Brown's Search Engine, Net Neutrality | 10 Comments »

Better Tag Cloud