Recommendations for Improving Canada's Role in a Digital World

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Submitted by BattleGoat Studios 2010-07-14 08:38:01 EDT
Themes: Canada's Digital Content, Digital Infrastructure, Growing the ICT Industry

Summary

We have tried to keep this submission brief and to the point on the four major recommendations that we feel would make the greatest difference in supporting a stronger Digital Economy and digitally-aware population in Canada. Again the focus of our recommendations:

  • Equalize Treatment of Content Creation through Public Policy and Tax Incentives
  • Amend Bill C-32 to restore Fairness in Copyright - Balance in Digital Locks
  • Support for Libraries, Education, and Open Data
  • Facilitate High Speed, Affordable and Widely-Available Broadband

Submission

July 12, 2010

Recommendations for Improving Canada's Role in a Digital World

By BattleGoat Studios (Canadian Video Game Developer)
George Geczy (Co-Owner, BattleGoat Studios)
David Thompson (Co-Owner, BattleGoat Studios)

As a Canadian Video Game Developer (a "Content Creator") we have a very strong interest in Canada's position with regard to policies meant to promote a Digital Economy. We find that, historically, Canada' public policy has been inconsistent and unbalanced in this area, and we hope that moving forward Canada can adopt a more comprehensive, focused and fair approach.

Treatment of Content Creation through Public Policy

Federally, Canada has a very unbalanced approach to support different content creation industries. All major forms of media — film, television, music, books, and video games — are now converging as digitally-delivered products to a worldwide audience. However, tax and investment incentives vary greatly between these media, for example many tax incentives automatically available to film producers are not available to video game developers. As the global interest in the video game industry increases, addressing this imbalance and providing similar supports to all content industries becomes more and more important. The global video game industry now exceeds film and television in size, and yet the latter receive more advantageous federal tax credit regimes.

Fairness in Copyright — Balance in Digital Locks

While Bill C-32 has been released to deal with Copyright and content protection issues, we feel it is not possible to discuss Canada's digital role without also touching on this topic. Content creation involves a balance between consumers, new content, and inspiration from existing culture. Bill C-32s digital locks provisions break this balance by making it illegal to break TPMs (Technological Protection Measures) for otherwise legal uses of material, such as archiving, documentaries, education, and more. This over-riding protection of TPMs also weakens public respect for copyright by creating an imbalance that favours media distributors.

We feel it is important that Bill C-32 be amended to permit the circumventing of digital locks for otherwise legal ("non-infringing") purposes; this is important both to consumers and content creators like ourselves, for the reasons we detailed in our submission to the C-32 consultation process last year.

Support for Libraries, Education, and Open Data

A vibrant digital economy must be built from the ground up, and as such we strongly support the digital consultation submissions made by the Canadian Library Association, the Ontario Library Association, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries. Support for libraries, universities, and elementary/secondary education is the starting point for a technologically-educated and empowered population. I would in particular point out their opposition to the digital locks provisions of Bill C-32 as being major impediments to the services these institutions offer, and also to the imperative for open access to public sector data.

High Speed and Widely-Available Broadband

Though there have been announcements nearly every year for the past decade about Broadband funding, improvements, and increased accessibility, Canada remains at the back of the pack of industrialized nations for the cost and availability of high speed infrastructure. Our own company must deal with slower available connection speeds, higher costs, and unreasonable data limits as compared to similar developers in other jurisdictions. We must contract out web hosting, e-commerce and remote server services to other countries including the United States and Sweden, because the same services or bandwidth here in Canada come at an unreasonable cost, and in some cases are not even available to smaller organizations like ourselves. It is important to make real and significant improvement in the cost and capacity of broadband in Canada.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide our views on these topics.

George Geczy & David Thompson, BattleGoat Studios

Notice

The public consultation period ended on July 13, 2010, at which time this website was closed to additional comments and submissions.

Between May 10 and July 13, more than 2010 Canadian individuals and organizations registered to share their ideas and submissions. You can read their contributions—and the comments from other users—in the Submissions Area and the Idea Forum.

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