Copyright Reform: Updated

I sent my European Parliament members an email this morning about the EU extending copyright from the current term of copyright for sound recordings from 50 years to 95 years. The vote on this issue is going to be this Thursday.

Anyhow within today I got an email from both of my Liberal Democrat MEP’s today as well as from UKIP, all of whom agree with my position on the EU Copyright laws. From this I will definitely be voting Liberal Democrat in the next election.

The other amusing thing was that one of my Liberal Democrat MEP’s is a Baroness and she replied within minutes, I find it very interesting to see “establishment” figures like a Baroness agreeing with me politically here. Its actually like the Economist being pro-drugs legalisation. Now I agree about drugs legalisation for the same reasons that the Economist brings up, but regardless on your position it is definitely a liberal position to hold.

Amusingly if you read a more downmarket news source that the “common man” reads like the Daily Mail and the Sun they will be anti-drugs legalisation and much more right wing.

Anyhow I found out about this vote from Arstechnica, which led me to the following website. I personally thought the sample email given there is rubbish, so here is what I wrote instead:

I have heard that this week the European parliament is voting to extend
copyright terms for sound recordings. Personally I think this is a bad
idea as the terms are currently long enough.

I think this because independent studies including the UK governments
Gower report (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/gowers_review_index.htm)
are opposed to this move. This information is covered on pages 49 to 57
of the report. The University of Cambridge has also collected a list of
other independent studies and their conclusions which is available at
the following link:
http://www.cipil.law.cam.ac.uk/File/Studies+Signatories.pdf

According to the Gower Report the life of the vast majority of creative
works is very short – only 3% of record company income comes from works
released before 1966. Additionally when the US considered extending the
copyright term beyond 50 years, 17 economists including 5 Nobel prize
winners estimated that extending copyright beyond 50 years would have
no affect on investment decisions on new works as the income was to be
received so far into the future.

The flaws in this bill especially apply to retrospective copyright as
in those cases the works in question have already been made under the
current rules, extending those copyrights isn’t going to make more
works magically appear in the past as that is impossible, all that is
going to be done is that a few already very rich artists and record
labels will be made even richer while providing no net benefit to the
average citizen as according to the Gower report less music would be
available to the consumer.

Updated: I have to also credit the Green party representatives for getting back to me within just over 24 hours.

Software for the Mac

I personally am a Mac user, and have been for a few years now but one thing I notice is that lots of people will come and criticise my choice of computer based on lack of software support for the platform.

However while it is true that there are certain professional applications without Mac support to this day, such as AutoCAD* (a 3D design/engineering program) the truth is the situation is much less limited than people think.

Today, I wanted to download some photos from Flickr so I could show them to my family without an internet connection. So I picked up that there was a program called Downloadr to download them. Unfortunately this program is only available for Windows.

Although I have Windows installed on my MacBook (and I will probably get Windows 7 when it comes out later this year.) I prefer to use Mac OS X instead so I asked a question on MacRumors to see if I could find an equivalent Mac application. This didn’t come up with any promising answers so I set down to just use the Windows program. After getting it installed and creating a manual desktop shortcut and creating the folder in Program files (via 2 UAC prompts) for the program I loaded it up – unfortunately the program crashed straight away and so was essentially useless so I reported this to the developer and got on with my day.

Then later that evening I went back to the website to see whether the developer had had time to follow up my report (I admit I’m being impatient here :p) and found that they hadn’t but they had linked to a piece of software called Flickery which I clicked on to see what it was – and guess what. Its a Mac application.

Now actually this is only the third time that I have had a problem finding software for the Mac since I switched to the Mac back in 2004. The first time was for watching channel 4 TV shows on the computer, though actually now that has got a Mac version these days.

The second time was actually a little more important as the version of Microsoft Office for Mac is a bit weak on the Mac compared to the Windows version as it doesn’t come with all the bits like Access that the Windows version has.

The moral of the story is that while Macs may be expensive, you probably aren’t going to be short of software unless you are a high-end professional user or you need lots of advanced features out of Microsoft Office – one of the weaker Mac applications.

* = Though actually AutoCAD are talking about making a version for the Mac again at the moment. I hear there is some high-end mapping software that is Windows only, but I’m not sure what exactly that is.

Smart cards

I’ve got some smart cards left over for Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai and the latter two even have some credit on them so if you’re going to any of those cities and would like a smartcard then drop me an email. Note that the one for Tokyo is less useful as if you dont have a railpass you get a “free” one with the narita express into central Tokyo.