FryUp: Fair Go Telecom; Common sense prevails; What the world needs now
- 05 June, 2003 22:00
- Fair Go Telecom
- Common sense prevails
- What the world needs now is – another taskforce?
- Fair Go Telecom
A nice example of reader advocacy from Computerworld this week. JetStream user Mark Boettcher is mystified by a surprise bill of $2266 for two months' use of his JetStream DSL account. Although Telecom has shown him the time periods the internet usage was recorded, he wants more detail and reckons Telecom should be more accountable about the accuracy of its figures. He is truly puzzled. As a software engineer he is savvy about protecting himself against viruses and doesn’t use file-sharing programs – both of which can dramatically boost traffic. He says much of the traffic took place at times when he was asleep and not using his computer. He’s not the only person to find themselves in this predicament. Computerworld and other IDG publications are often contacted by users with similar problems.
Telecom admitted to Computerworld that it’s not doing enough to protect small business and home users who aren’t IT experts and don’t filter traffic with fancy firewalls. It said it’s planning improving its after-sales support, usage meter, and providing some kind of "semi-firewall" features for home and small-business users.
This is all great news but it doesn’t necessarily help Boettcher. Consumers' Institute head David Russell says it highlights the need for a telecomms ombudsman as billing disputes in this area arise all the time.
It reminds me of 16 years ago when I was an arrears clerk (is there a worse job in the world?) for the Housing Corporation. Rents fell into arrears and I would send out a notice itemising when and how the arrears occurred. If someone disputed it, I faced hours of fun scanning Databank printouts looking for lost payments. The cost of finding these probably exceeded the amount recovered from the tenants but the onus was on us to show why the money was owed. Obviously those bad old days of wading through mainframe printouts are behind us. Surely Telecom’s systems for monitoring traffic usage and billing are sophisticated enough to satisfy customer demands for accountability? Or are they?
- Common sense prevails
If I commission software from a developer and the developer uses code from its library to build my software, do I become the owner of the pre-existing code? It’s a question which occasionally pops up to vex software developers and their customers but which has now been cleared up by the Court of Appeal.
The answer is the software developer owns the code but the customer does have a non-revocable licence to it which it can pass onto a successor company but which it can’t sell. The Court of Appeal case turned on who owned copyright of the source code -- including libraries and subroutines -- for a Visual Basic/Access pokie machine database commissioned by Hamilton-based Perry Group from Pacific Software, also of Hamilton. Pacific Software refused to hand over the underlying source code for the software, effectively preventing Perry Group from further developing or on-selling the application. It all looked a bit worrying for developers at one stage but as IP lawyer Ken Moon told Computerworld, it’s common sense that software developers continue to have access to the software sub-routines and libraries they repeatedly use to develop commissioned applications.
- What the world needs now is – another task force?
Well InternetNZ is proposing one to help New Zealanders move to IPv6. Actually it’s good news because I fear New Zealand is falling behind in this area. IPv6 is more secure, more efficient and flexible and will allow far more addresses. In order to support IPv6 network equipment vendors and many software developers will need to update their products. The task force would not be charged with driving implementation of IPv6, but to prepare for the adoption of IPv6 when it becomes necessary. InternetNZ’s Peter Macaulay described the task force's role as "planning, testing and knowledge dissemination".