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Downloaders win again

Latest court ruling strikes another blow against music industry While the federal government makes up its mind how to address the whole copyrighted songs vs.

Latest court ruling strikes another blow against music industry

While the federal government makes up its mind how to address the whole copyrighted songs vs. peer-to-peer downloading issue (the latest proposed legislation was panned by both sides, and won’t get a vote for a long time) the music industry lost yet another court case contrived to identify illegal music and file swappers through their Internet service providers.

This week the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the Canadian Recording Industry Association’s appeal of a controversial March 2004 Federal Court ruling.

The original suit, BMG Canada verses John Doe, targeted the ISPs of 29 music swappers who the industry claimed were sharing over 1,000 songs each over the Internet. The CRIA, which represents the Canadian recording industry, was trying to force ISPs to reveal the identities of the swappers, which would then allow the industry to follow the example set in the U.S. by the recording industry and sue the individuals directly.

By making an example of a few swappers, the music industry believes it can curb the illegal sharing habits of Canadians.

Unfortunately, the CRIA is having a hard time holding anybody responsible for rampant music theft that is costing the industry and musicians tens of millions a year in Canada alone.

The ISPs, including Telus, have so far refused to divulge the identities of the swappers because of privacy concerns. The judge in the case noted that it was tricky balancing an individual’s right to privacy against copyright theft and infringement, but sided on behalf of individual rights because of the potential for "unwarranted intrusion into personal lives," which "is now unparalleled."

What does it all mean? It’s hard to say because the Federal Court of Appeals judge was sympathetic to the CRIA’s case, acknowledging that the music industry was being wronged. Whether the CRIA will target the ISPs again is still to be seen, but it’s a safe bet that none of the 29 individuals targeted are off the hook just yet.

Meanwhile the federal government may get the legislation right yet, in which case the job of going after file swappers would pass on from the music industry to the police once the legislation is passed.

Right now, with no precedent set against either file uploaders or downloaders in civil court and no criminal law on the books, one could argue that file swapping is currently legal in Canada – while copyright infringement remains a crime.

Talk about your grey areas.

Ringside seats

For the most part space exploration has been relatively benign – nobody has been hit by a falling satellite yet, and aside from a few billion dollars worth of scientific litter strewn about the solar system, we haven’t even begun to leave our footprint on the cosmos. Our mission has been primarily to observe, not to interfere.

That’s going to changed next week when a little satellite by the name of Deep Impacts slams into a four-mile long comet at about 23,000 miles per hour.

Scientists estimate that the force of the blow will be the equivalent of about 4.5 tons of dynamite, knocking a divot the size of a stadium out of the side of the comet. The flash from the impact could be visible from the western hemisphere, even though we’re more than 75 million miles away. Still, the best seat in the house belongs to the Hubble Space Telescope – an incredibly useful instrument that could be decommissioned in favour of another glory trip to the moon and possibly a trip to Mars.

Hubble has already captured pictures of the comet which will be used for before and after comparisons, as well as to examine the content of the comet by analyzing at the debris created by the collision.

The results of this study should help scientists figure out exactly what comets are made of, how they were formed, and how the solar system may have been formed. The data could also be useful down the road if the earth is ever threatened by a large comet and Bruce Willis wasn’t around to save the day.

The date for the collision is July 4, as planned to coincide with U.S. Independence Day celebrations – a fireworks display to top all fireworks displays.

The Hubble will take pictures of the collision and the aftermath, and millions of people are following the build-up for the Deep Impact bout on the official website,

New iTunes good for music

There are few pieces of software that I’ve owned that I’ve needed to update more frequently than Apple’s iTunes. It seems like iTunes 4.1 just came out (less than two years ago actually) and already the software version is up to 4.9. The newest version was released this week with few surprises, but one nice little feature that music geeks everywhere will appreciate. In addition to all the regular features, iTunes 4.9 allows podcasting, the latest fad among the growing ranks of iPod owners. Basically, people put together shows – some are radio style broadcasts, others are more like media interviews and voice diaries – and then share those podcasts through the web. The new iTunes will list over 3,000 popular podcasts, which you can tune into anytime. It’s a great way to hear new music and bands, and in a short while you’ll be visiting your favourite podcasts regularly to get the latest show. You can download the newest version at , or click on the "check for updates" link in your existing version of iTunes. It’s a pretty big download, over 20MB, but it’s worth it.