Canada 3.0: Digital Rights Keynote With Gary Maavara

Gary Maavara, Vice President of Corus Entertainment and Jerry Brown, Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers delivered a keynote speech on digital rights in Canada. The duo started off by reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ for broadcasters when they held licenses to print money. Advertisers where forced to go through the broadcasters to reach consumers. Now the entire model has been flipped with advertisers reaching consumers directly and consumers creating their own content. The content is now nothing more then bits of information that are easily copied, with each copy being as good as the last.

Broadcasters and publishers like Corus Entertainment must find new ways to distribute and protect their content. This has proven to be incredibly difficult for those that own the rights to digital content; the industry is still struggling to find ways to regulate material that is so easily copied. With recent musical and photo mashups entering distribution channels the ownership of material becomes less clear.

These ownership questions must be resolved immediately, digital works do not take up any space to store and their ease of transmission means an end to scarcity. Consumers will get the content they are looking for whether there is a system to pay for it or not. It’s up to publishers and broadcasters to develop modern content distributions systems that will work on whatever platforms consumers are using. There is a lot of work to be done in the area of digital rights including the creation of common standards, taxonomy, and an examination of content publisher’s national and international obligations.

Jerry and Gary believe digital media content publishers will contribute much to the Canadian economy. The creative industries are job creation engines; relatively small investments can produce dramatic increases in revenue. The duo agreed that to create a fair digital rights structure government and industry must “access the basics, starting with the bits”.

Last week a gathering of Canada’s digital media leaders took place in the small city of Stratford, Ontario. The Canada 3.0 conference was designed to engage industry leaders, government officials, and academia in a discussion that would identify national priorities and a national strategy for the future development of the country’s digital media industry.

The welcoming remarks were delivered by David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo and Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) which lead into a speech by Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. The introduction and following speech stressed the benefits of fostering a strong digital media industry in Canada and the economic rewards it would bring. They also encouraged conference attendees to recognize that academia, industry and government must work together to create a unified strategy in developing its digital future.

Mr. Clement also acknowledged the need for the Canadian government to embrace new media technologies and make more of their content and services easily accessible to all Canadians. Government projects mentioned included: the expansion of broadband access to all Canadians, improvements to government websites, investment in small to medium sized business and programs like the Digital Media Corridor in the Stratford and Kitchener-Waterloo area.

Other topics included a mention of the government’s responsibility to tax and regulate online economic activities as well as the need for a fairer more effective copyright protection for online content. While this will ultimately bring an end to the wild west spirit of the web it may also bring greater economic rewards for those producing digital content.

The Canada 3.0 Forum coming up on June 8th and 9th in Stratford promises to map Canada’s digital future and create opportunities for new business and jobs. Hosted by the University of Waterloo Stratford Institute and the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN), the forum is the must-attend event for anyone in the Digital Media Corridor.

The forum will addresses four themes – content and entertainment, technology and business, government, and research and education – and will provide participants with opportunities to actively engage industry leaders and speakers. Among the scheduled speakers are:

  • Arlene Dickinson, CEO Venture Communications Ltd. and CBC’s Dragons’ Den Alumni
  • Lisa de Wilde, CEO of TV Ontario (TVO)
  • John Cassaday, President and CEO of Corus Entertainment Inc.
  • Gerry Remers, President and COO of Christie Digital Systems
  • Paul Salvini, Chief Technology Officer and VP Canadian Operations at Side Effects Software

“Anyone who wants to be part of Canada’s digital future has a vested interest in being at this forum,” said Tom Jenkins, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer at Open Text and a speaker at the event. “Canada has the opportunity to lead by enabling a groundswell of entrepreneurial businesses in the digital media space. Next-generation content and technology will claim Canada’s stake in the competitive digital economy.”

The federal government recently recognized this huge economic opportunity by investing $10.7 Million in the CDMN, in part to establish UW’s Stratford Institute and to host critical opportunities like Canada 3.0.

With the recent massive influx of government spending and plans for the creation of a Digital Media Corridor in Stratford and Kitchener the digital economy in Canada has become a hot topic. The same group that has been organizing the Digital Media Corridor is hosting Canada 3.0 this June, a conference designed to look at the future of Canada’s digital economy.The conference is aimed at defining and implementing a nationally strategy for our digital economy.

Policy makers, educators and other digital media leaders will be attending the conference. Workshops, seminars and roundtable discussions will encourage attendee’s participation in helping to shape a Canadian strategy for the digital future. The main topics being covered include; the Vision for Canada’s Digital Future, Digital Shovels: Building Infrastructure, Digital Rights and Creative Content Development, Mobility and Media, Digital Media Research and Commercialization, and Skills Development and Job Creation.

Canada 3.0 is being held from June 7th – 9th at the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Institute. You can register for the Canada 3.0 conference on their website, the confrence cost is $495.00.