Will Australians lose their legal right to boycott business?

25 02 2007

Trust and Protest by yewenyi on FlickrAustralian Treasurer Peter Costello has proposed a change in legislation amending the powers of the ACCC to make it easier for corporations to sue citizens who boycott companies, and recover their lost revenue from such a boycott. This is a reaction to the current legal action of the Australian wool industry against PETA, however this legislation has wider implications for citizens, if anyone who boycotts a company, or encourages another person to boycott a company, could be facing legal action in the future. This has additional implications for tax payers, who will foot the bill for companies to defend themselves against bad PR. Could protesting asbestos victims of James Hardie be sued to recover lost revenue? Could vegetarians be sued for boycotting meat? Could athiests be sued for boycotting church? Where is the line going to be drawn, and who is going to police this?

A spokesman for the consumer advocacy group Choice, Gordon Renouf, said consumers had a right not to buy products on ethical grounds. “There is a fine line between letting people get on with their business and interfering with consumer choice.”

This legislation has failed to pass on five previous occasions, but the Liberals now have the numbers in the Senate to get it through.

Australian Wool Innovation supports the move and “would like to acknowledge Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Peter McGauran, who has supported the need to strengthen these laws; and Federal Treasurer Peter Costello for making this important decision that will protect the interests of Australian woolgrowers.”


BRW – Australia Online edition

22 02 2007

Richard Giles - BRW Australia Online Edition BRW Australia Online EditionBRW’s Australia Online edition covers some of the local Web 2.0 news, such as Richard Giles and Scouta (page 64), along with the big news: online advertising revenue has finally exceeded $1 billion dollars in Australia. Old media, if you don’t have a decent online revenue model by now, you should be worried, very worried.

Scouta is on the lookout for audio and video you love

20 02 2007

Scouta LogoScouta is now open to the public! Signup and invite your friends to find the best audio and video on the web, (not just the latest lame craze on YouTube). I never used to watch much video online (too much noise like PrankVote and not enough signal like The Machine Is Us) until I got Scouta. I got my mitts on a Scouta Beta invite a while ago and I’ve been a Scouta addict ever since. Scouta is a top Australian internet startup from Graeme Sutherland and Richard Giles (codename Web2Thing). If you want more than the About page, check out the Scouta Blog for the latest news. One of the coolest things about Scouta is the ability to form groups, with topics ranging from Apple to Web2 and beyond. Each group can have tags, as can individual media items. I’ve created a couple of groups, including Arcologies (a blend of architecture and ecology), Media FUD (This is the place to mark the media coverage which would be the shame of the industry, if they cared about ethics), A New Kind of Politics (seeking a better kind of politician), Perfect Presentations (mark your favourite presentations here), How To (for video/audio tutorials). Individual items can be linked to, just sign in to rate them. No complex rating system here, it’s either good or bad. This is one of my favourites – WeTube: The Future of YouTube.
Another cool item from Scouta is the output of your favourites in RSS! My favourites are here: and these items have been recommended to me, but I haven’t yet rated them:  
digg story

Your LinkedIn data – sorted by most connected

15 02 2007

I found a nice little life hack today in LinkedIn, running an empty People query sorts all your contacts with the most connected at the top (except you, person zero). Awesome.

The RIAA are the Luddites of the Information Revolution

14 02 2007

Back in 1999, I used Napster. I sampled music that my overseas online friends mentioned. I bought more CDs when using Napster than I’d ever bought before. The thing that sucked about Napster was not being able to purchase music directly.
Then the RIAA decided they wanted to shutdown Napster. I found this surprising, given the advertising/marketing potential of the system, although I could understand their concerns regarding piracy. However I came to have less and less sympathy for the music industry as it continued to willfully make things harder for itself in a rapidly changing market.
The music industry in it’s current form has outlived it’s usefulness and needs to be replaced with something practical and less bloated with self-serving practices and people. Napster was eight years ago. In eight years there has not been any decent development in the sale of online music. Apple tried and failed with iTunes. In usability it’s not bad, but that DRM is the kicker. No one wants to buy electronic files that don’t use the inherent abilities of digital formats; portability, storage size, file transfer without loss of quality. Native Americans understood the concept of digital signals far before digital equipment was available, yet the RIAA seems incapable of understanding the basic concepts and business opportunities of the digital long tail.
The mp3 format should have been a revolution in music. The small size of the file should have changed music distribution on a massive scale. Physical items which used to cost a lot of money to distribute, can now be distributed much cheaper, with the end user absorbing some of that cost via the download process (half the “shipping”).
The RIAA still actively supports a broken system. For those outside the US, I’m sure you know the pain of being a customer in another nation. Delayed releases, non-existant releases, lack of availability, unexplained higher costs for the same item. While there may be some explanation for this in regards to physical stock, there is no explanation for electronic music. Why does the music industry still have country-specific arms with different distribution for electronic music? This is just another layer of middle men, raking in money for doing absolutely nothing. For those of you with iPods, the pain is especially strong, as you know that song you really want is available in the US iTunes Music Store, but not in your own country.
There is still no centralised register of legally purchased music. I cannot provide to my insurance company, the details of my digital license history for all of my owned music. I still cannot purchase hard copy replacements of music I legally own. Digital is better than analogue. It can be tagged, aggregated, searched, sorted, catalogued, edited, copied without major data loss, exported, imported, etc.
So what can you do about it? – vote with your wallet and your attention, music blackout
Since the filed lawsuit against Napster (in 1999) I have bought no music at all from any label, independant or otherwise. I do not download any illegal music either. I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t buy ringtones and I don’t watch music videos. My iPod is pristine, never having held anything that’s not a podcast. Eight years later in 2007 and I am no longer a consumer of any music. I will not return to the consumer pool until this industry behaves responsibly and stops holding back technology and human civilization. The RIAA are the Luddites of the Information Revolution, putting their own interests before the rest of humanity, to protect an outdated cartel whose time is up.

I love electricity… 12 hours after the blackout

11 02 2007

After over 12 hours without power today, I’m counting my blessings at it’s return. Lighting, kettle, refrigeration, cordless phones, clock radio, computers, piezoelectric gas, oh and I guess the tv, although with power back, I no longer want to see the news to find out where the power went.

A 90km per hour wind took it. Three cheers for the sparkies who spent 12 hours restoring the power, restringing cables, raising power poles, testing lines and doing it all with a wave and a smile.

Maybe it’s time Australia had a good long think about underground power. Is there any real reason we still have above ground power lines?

Open Letter (bug report) to Blogger/Google

1 02 2007

Your blogspot.com URL is returning 404 – Page Not Found. I’d love to report it to you as you requested, but you have no bug report form.

We’re sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:
* Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
* Provide the following error code and additional information.

Oh, and when requesting the submission of a report, put a link to where it can be reported!
C’mon Google, it’s not evil, it’s just stupid.