Blog for December 2007

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Online Video Media Comes to Canada

When it comes to technology and product launches, Canadians have gotten used to watching Americans get all the cool toys. We then get to wait weeks or months before it trickles north. Usually in some lesser form. On the bright side, at least we don’t live in Europe or Australia, where those same products arrive years later (the only recent exception to this being the iPhone).

Case in point: Microsoft launched an online service to distribute television shows and movies to Xbox 360 owners. The service was launched in USA on November 22, 2006 via Xbox Live. In October 2005, Apple updated their popular iTunes Music Store to sell music videos and episodes of popular television programs, that could be watched on their updated iPods. I remember being excited about both launches... only to be disappointed when I discovered it wasn’t available in Canada.

Now, a year after the Xbox Video Marketplace went live, and two years after the American iTunes Store update, Canada is finally getting online video distribution. And, as expected, it’s the poorer cousin to the US versions.

The Xbox Video Store officially launched in Canada on December 10th, 2007, with a total of 31 movies available. It’s an odd collection of movies, from Warner Bros., Maple Pictures, and MPI, but it has to start somewhere I suppose. The US store originally launched with 37 movies, but today has somewhere around 300.

The Apple iTunes Store began selling TV shows in it’s Canadian store on December 12th, 2007, though music videos have been available for much longer. The selection, however, is stereotypically unimpressive; Corner Gas, Little Mosque On the Prairie, NHL reruns? Am I supposed to be excited about this? In comparison, the US store has Dexter, Lost, Babylon 5, Firefly, Venture Bros., and a handful of anime.

Recently, Apple is no longer distributing some Universal Media Studios shows (including Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and House) due to a disagreement over pricing.

It’s still questionable about whether online video sales are sustainable. Or at least wether or not they are sustainable in their current format/prices. And I can only imagine the legal nightmare of getting permission and rights to distribute anything in different countries, especially anything as touchy as digital media. But I must admit to being happy that Canadians at least get to try it out.

Now, we just have to wait for our iPhones...

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Rallying Against Canadian DMCA

Canadians gathered in Calgary, Alberta on Saturday, December 8th to confront Industry Canada Minister Jim Prentice on his proposed copyright legislation. Kempton Lam, who organized the anti-DMCA rally, has posted several reports about the day.

The proposed legislation has been described as the worst copyright law in the developed world, mimicing and exceeding the worst elements of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 1998. Reports are that Jim Prentice shut Canadian artists, industry and consumer groups out of the drafting of the bill, writing it with the help of US entertainment giants and the US Trade Representative.

The US DMCA has lead to literally thousands of lawsuits against consumers, and is one of the more commonly abused laws in the United States. According to a report published by the CATO institute...

Some firms have used the DMCA to thwart competition by preventing research and reverse engineering. Others have brought the weight of criminal sanctions to bear against critics, competitors, and researchers.

Meanwhile, the US DMCA has done little to stop music and movie pirates...

Worst of all, DRM technologies are clumsy and ineffective; they inconvenience legitimate users but do little to stop pirates.

On Saturday, approximately forty citizens came to the Minister’s open house in Calgary, and asked him some of the 250+ questions compiled by Canadians and the CBC Radio programme Search Engine. Also, as of this writing, a Facebook group dedicated to fair copyright in Canada has crested 12,000 members, and has posted numerous photos and videos of Saturday.

Apparently, the Minister is currently rethinking the legislation in light of the recent public outcry.

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First Look at "Speed Racer"

USA Today has an article with eight pictures of the upcoming Speed Racer live action movie by the Wachowski brothers.


The movie is being done heavily in green screen, as seems to be the trend these days when trying to translate comicbooks and cartoons. But what I’m looking forward to is some over-the-top racing. I mean, stupid crazy over-the-top cartoon racing... involving hopping cars with buzzsaws, if possible!

Producer Joel Silver is not letting me down as he describes some of the crazy racing we can expect from the movie: "We called it ’car fu,’ because it was like kung fu with the cars".


I mean, look at that! It’s the Mach 5 (or is that a Mach 6?) skidding out of a corkscrew track. A corkscrew track! How cool is that? :)


The first official Speed Racer trailer is online...

Looks even more cheesy than I expected, but I still can’t wait to see it. :P

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