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Build 2000

Tuning into the future at the Tapscott-Lopes Business and Society Lecture

International media and technology consultant Jim Griffin isn't interested in things that are "faster, cheaper, neater, cooler," he told his audience at Trent University's second annual Don Tapscott-Ana Lopes Business and Society Lecture on March 3.

"The things that get my attention are those things that enable us to do things we couldn't do before," he said.

As part of his lecture "Tune in, turn on and download? Cruising on the Information Toll Road in an MP3 Age," Mr. Griffin, the CEO of Cherry Hill Digital, said he encourages the practice of sharing intellectual property and discussed the advantages of digital technology.

"Art need never die," he said, adding also that the Internet provides a place for art that wouldn't otherwise have had a life, and for unusual art that wouldn’t otherwise have been distributed.

Trent University alumnus Don Tapscott, an international authority on the application of technology in business, a consultant to some of the world's largest corporations, author of nine books and speaker on business strategy and organizational transformation, introduced Mr. Griffin. He cited a number of recent newspaper articles that emphasize current confusion and far-reaching issues on music and business.

As an advisor and consultant to the music and entertainment delivery industries, Mr. Griffin works to help his clients understand the uncertainty about the digital delivery of art. He is an internationally recognized author and worked at Geffen Records when it distributed the first full-length commercial song on the Internet. He has been noted as "One of the brightest minds in digital music," by CNN Money and as an "Entertainment Technology Visionary" by the Los Angeles Times.

The Don Tapscott and Ana Lopes Business and Society Lecture fund was established to support a lecture once a year to bring prominent speakers to the Trent University community to address issues of values and ethics as they pertain to business and society.

"The sharing of art and knowledge are the hallmarks of a civilized society," Mr. Griffin told his audience.

But he cautioned that if there were no money for those who create art and knowledge, there wouldn't be much more of it in the future. He told his audience members it was their task to make intellectual property free without it being free. His ideas focus on an actuarial model that would see those with digital connections pay into a pool of money that would be equally divided by those who create and distribute the art and knowledge. Rather than paying for a product, Internet users and those who download pay for the service.

"We would turn listening to new music into a positive economic consequence, not a negative one," he said, adding the actuarial model would see the price of downloading spread across the population.

"One of the ways to stop piracy is to stop calling it piracy - to license it... you reach a fair, effective monetization agreement and you move on."

The first Don Tapscott-Ana Lopes Business and Society Lecture in 2003 featured Mr. Tapscott, who spoke on "Integrity and Trust in a Transparent World," based on his latest book The Naked Corporation. The book examines an extraordinary age of transparency, where businesses must for the first time make themselves clearly visible to shareholders, customers, employees, partners, and society. Mr. Tapscott and co-author David Ticoll explain how the new transparency has caused a power shift toward customers, employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders; how and where information has exploded; and how corporations across many industries have seized on transparency not as a challenge but as an opportunity.

Ana Lopes is a member of Trent's Board of Governors and in 1995 founded a communications company to help clients with strategies to reposition their companies in the digital economy. Ms. Lopes was Premier Bob Rae's Executive Assistant from 1992 to 1995 and as a volunteer, has fundraised extensively for mental health research, particularly to establish a chair in schizophrenia research at the University of Toronto. As a leader in Toronto's Portuguese-speaking community she helped to found Abrigo – a counselling service for women and children, and a shelter for women from across the city's immigrant communities. Ms. Lopes is also a member of the Board of Directors of Women's College Hospital Foundation.

Posted March 4, 2004

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