An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair)

Sponsor

Wilson Miao  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of April 8, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-244.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 8th, 2022 / 2:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michael Coteau Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak from the beautiful riding of Don Valley East.

I want to first thank the member for Richmond Centre for bringing forward Bill C-244. It is very timely. The right to repair, as all the speakers have said in the past few speeches, is something that Canadians are looking for. It makes complete sense. Often lawmakers do not keep up with technology changes at the pace that they should, and it is nice to see that everyone who has spoken so far in this House agrees that this piece of legislation is needed.

Recently I got a letter from a gentleman from North Perth. He is an owner of a small independent theatre. He was telling me about the motherboard on the projector. Projectors are around $50,000 to $100,000, and the motherboard is about a $5,000 piece of technology. The technology was built in such a way that when the battery, which is basically a $1 watch battery, dies, the entire motherboard resets and becomes useless unless one pays $5,000 to fix the device.

That was a recent letter, from February 16. It came to me because I introduced a piece of proposed legislation when I was at the Ontario legislature that dealt with the right to repair as well, and to this day people are still calling me about this issue.

There are many Canadians who agree that we need to move forward on making some changes, and I think this proposed piece of legislation, this bill, is exactly what the people of Ontario are looking for. To change the Copyright Act to prohibit the use of technology protection measures or technological protection measures, or what are sometimes referred to as “digital locks”, is a good step in the right direction.

Things are changing so quickly on our planet. It is important for us to be able to fix our devices when necessary. People have talked about agricultural machinery and personal hand-held devices, and from washing machines to fridges, everything is integrated with software today. The technologies speak to each other, and it is important that people have access to fixing those pieces as quickly as possible.

I read a story a while back about people having to put their tractors onto trucks and move them hundreds of miles to get them fixed because they were not given the codes to access the software for updates that were necessary. This slows down production in agriculture, and it does something else: It takes away from the local economy. We should think of repair people in this sector as comparable to a mechanic's shop. If somebody's car is broken, they are not going to travel hundreds of kilometres for a repair. In most cases, if they live in a town, there is access to some type of mechanic who can fix their car.

That is not necessarily the case with technology today. We have cellphones that are very costly to fix. Motherboards are so integrated that the entire piece needs to be replaced, which becomes very expensive.

My first experience with the right to repair was when my cellphone broke. It was a Samsung S8 at the time. My daughter dropped it and the screen broke and I went to go fix it. The bill was $330 plus tax. A replacement phone was just a bit more than that at the time.

I was shocked that a screen could cost so much. The phone was working perfectly. It just had a crack on the top right of the screen. That opened my eyes to the world of right to repair and the advocacy that was out there.

In fact, around the same time, the member for Ottawa Centre, who was not a member of Parliament at the time, sent me a clip from CBC. It talked about the right to repair and the growing concerns in the sector around how companies were protecting their diagnostic software, manuals and schematics, specific tools and parts, and not making them available to people. I thought that we needed to make some changes in order to create more accessibility to these products.

The proposed legislation and working with the provinces is actually the perfect balance to have the right to repair movement continue to grow here in this country. I want to thank the member for Cambridge who, I believe it was in February 2021, brought forward the initial bill, the right to repair, and brought some national profile to this issue. There have been many other members across the country who have been advocating in their provincial legislatures for years, fighting for the right to repair, and I just want to mention a couple of those. I think it is important to recognize the work that is happening at the provincial level because it is complementary to the work that is happening federally, and vice versa.

Daniel Guitard from New Brunswick has been doing some incredible work, as well as Gordon McNeilly from P.E.I. I want to give a special thanks to the work of Guy Ouellette, who I would have to say is probably one of the original legislators across this country and has actually put in a lot of time and effort, not only here in this country but right across the world, in North America and at the international level, fighting for the right to repair. He introduced a bill back in April 2019, Bill 197 that amended the Consumer Protection Act, like my Bill 72 did in Ontario.

His bill focused on planned obsolescence, in addition to those areas like access to parts, schematics, etc. The bill was the first of its kind in Canada that looked at planned obsolescence and really put in place the European model for protection of products by giving them a rating system that allowed people to know exactly what they were buying before they actually purchased it and to see how long it would actually last.

Right to repair is more than just making sure people have the ability to fix their products, like many of the members have said. I am so happy to see that all of the previous members, from the impression I got, are on board to support this proposed legislation. It is very rare to go into a chamber like ours when it seems like everyone is agreeing that this is something that should go forward. Again, I want to compliment the member for Richmond Centre for bringing this forward and having a lot of people support this moving forward.

There is the environmental piece that is connected to this. There is having the ability, the right, to take a product and actually improve it or fix it. I often think about the early days of Microsoft, Apple and all these big tech companies, such as Steve Jobs in his garage taking parts from one computer and putting them into another computer or updating software. If strict right to repair laws were in place back then, we probably would not have a company like Apple today. We would not have companies like Microsoft.

Having the ability to go into a device and actually update the software or replace parts is all about innovation. It helps create a more innovative sector as well. It is important to note that this is not about compromising copyright law. This is about protecting intellectual property while at the same time allowing people to move forward to improve the products that they own.

I will be supporting this bill. I want to thank the member for the work that he has been doing to advocate for this issue. I hope that we can move forward to work with provincial governments to ensure, at the end of the day, that both federal and provincial governments can make the necessary changes to build a better country.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 8th, 2022 / 2:10 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the debate today on Bill C-244. I was able to leave committee and jump in here. My colleague from the Bloc who spoke prior to me made a very good analysis of the bill, as well as of the efforts of the legislature in Quebec to deal with the situation over the right to repair. Part of what we are doing here is following up on work that needs to be done.

I am really pleased that the member for Richmond Centre has tabled Bill C-244. I had a good conversation with him. The intent of the bill is to make things better, not only for consumers, but for the environment and for competitiveness. In the years I have been in Parliament, I have tabled bills a couple of times on the right to repair for the automotive aftermarket. About 10 years ago, my bill passed through the House of Commons. It went to committee and, at the end of the day, a voluntary agreement was reached that is still in place. That was done by then minister Tony Clement. It is decent, but it has some issues.

I subsequently tabled another bill on the automotive sector because, since that time, automation and electronics information have changed quite significantly and not everyone is participating in this voluntary agreement. A good example is Tesla, which is not providing the information. This bill would amend the Copyright Act to allow consumers to adjust, fix or deal with an electronic device in a state of disrepair. In some instances, young people like to do that for their own innovation and usage. It does not allow for the commercialization of enhanced devices, but it is very serious. I will outline a little about the automotive sector, but one thing that is different about this bill is that it would given the provinces jurisdiction to bring in their own legislation. There is some benefit to that and there is some detraction from that, but it is another process.

I wholeheartedly support this bill going to committee, and so do New Democrats. We have had a long history on the right to repair on many fronts. I focused on automotive because others are looking at this type of legislation that would be done through the provinces. The reason I focused on automotive was because the federal legislation under Transport Canada requires a pan-Canadian strategy.

I am speaking right now from Windsor, Ontario. The situation had become so absurd that my vehicle could not be fixed in the aftermarket because information would not be provided, for example, for a simple software update, tools or equipment. I could drive to Detroit, Michigan, two miles or three kilometres from here, and get the same vehicle that was built in Canada fixed in the aftermarket.

The United States has used environmental protection and other types of legislation to provide a fair system. We are asking for fair competition and an accountable process to share that information, so that technicians can get the proper training and have the proper equipment to fix vehicles. On top of that, there are hundreds of thousands of people employed in this sector, and it would be impossible for dealerships in the general market to service all these vehicles. There are also the consequences of not fixing these devices. I will focus a little on cars in a moment, and I will switch to other devices in a second.

When we think about it, not allowing us to have this type of repair system for cars would cause all kinds of shops and places to close across Canada. Not only that, but people would be required to drive their vehicles, which are not in the best state, for sometimes hundreds of kilometres. There would be higher emissions, there would be greater safety issues and then there would be a number of shenanigans taking place. In one situation, simply updating a computer would stop a car from being fixed at an aftermarket garage, such as Canadian Tire or somewhere else. It would have to be towed to another location to get a simple adjustment to make it a working vehicle.

We also have municipalities and provincial service vehicles that are affected by this. These vehicles, having been amended for public service, actually require different types of servicing from complementary places, whether it be different types of market OEMs or others. It is really important that we have this taken care of.

To be quite frank, since I tabled my bill, some in the automotive sector have reached out to me, and they are looking back at that. The aftermarket organizations are looking at it. Hopefully, the volunteer agreement we have will get a good, thorough review for the automotive sector, so we do not have a further conflict and we can work on operations to be better.

Quite frankly, if we have car companies like Tesla that are opting out of this with no consequences, I do not know how we would go about a voluntary agreement. That is not fair for anyone, let alone the owners of the Tesla vehicle or the other companies that are doing the right thing. Some companies have been very forthright on this and are working very hard and diligently to be supportive and fair, again, in a way that is accountable, but others not so much. That is the challenge we face with a voluntary agreement.

To move specifically to the member's bill, it is much more broad with regards to the consequences that it would have, and I do not mean consequences as a negative thing but as a significant thing, on everything, such as electronic waste, which could be reduced. There is clearly a lack of regulation in Canada when it comes to some of our electronics in general.

Most recently, there has been some movement among some electronic providers to allow for their devices to have a third party fix them. I mean, how many times do we see kids or adults walking around with broken computer screens on their phones? It seems like either a hopeless cause or having to spend hundreds of dollars on a simple fix for something that should be done quite easily. On top of that, sending it in is a process that is so demanding, takes a long time and is basically being predicated upon in terms of pricing.

Now, in my view, a mobile personal device is an essential service. We use it for a number of things, not just as a phone, but for everything from work to play and staying connected to family and loved ones. As well, we pay premium for it, and there is no doubt about that, especially in Canada, as we have some of the highest costs in the developed world for these types of equipment.

There is no doubt that we need to do better on this. The lack of standards for charging these devices worldwide and the amount of electronic waste we have are simple examples to show that there is a real problem.

The member has put forth a number of suggestions here, and we are looking at the possibility of people being able to work through digital locks. These are simple things that can be done to allow people to have the convenience of fixing their devices or experience that it in a different way. Again, there are no commercialization rights to this, and there is no infringement that can take place of the Copyright Act. There are a number of issues, and it will be very helpful when we get to committee to bring them forward.

In conclusion, I want to thank the member for bringing this bill forward. I appreciate my colleague's interest, for many years, on this subject matter as we wrestle through it. The United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and a number of other countries are grappling with how to deal with this right now, and I think that it is very appropriate to bring the bill to committee.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 8th, 2022 / 2 p.m.
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Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C‑244. Today we are indirectly talking about planned obsolescence, the opposite of which is the circular economy. Funnily enough, we are engaging in a circular economy with this bill since we are recycling it from another Parliament.

As members have mentioned a few times already, the old version of this bill received the unanimous consent of the House. The Bloc Québécois will be no exception this time around and will again support this version of the bill.

To put it simply, this bill seeks to recognize the right to repair.

These days, consumer products contain a lot of electronic components. There are even smart fridges. The problem is that many companies include digital technology in these electronic components that prevents the product from being repaired without approval from the manufacturer and access to the source code. A repair person who circumvents the digital lock placed on the product without the manufacturer's consent would be committing an offence under the Copyright Act. That is what this bill seeks to correct.

I have been talking about planned obsolescence, but what does that mean? Planned obsolescence refers to a series of techniques, including software, employed by manufacturers to deliberately reduce the lifespan of a product. There are many ways to reduce a product's lifespan. This happens in the fashion industry, for instance. An item of clothing that is still wearable can, unfortunately, be considered outdated, even though that is sometimes just psychological. One year, stilettos are all the rage, then chunky heels are in the following year, and so on.

A product that is still usable can be considered outdated. If it breaks, it can easily be repaired. However, products are being rolled out so quickly these days that they are lower quality, which means that they are not kept as long.

Another aspect of this problem is that the goods being manufactured these days are really flimsy, so we end up having less control over what we are buying. Over time, the lifespan of manufactured goods has gotten shorter and shorter, in order to encourage us to buy more. At the turn of the century, it was thought that this would be a good way to get the economy going postwar. Now, however, we need to take the environment into account, since this kind of consumption has a significant impact.

The Quebec National Assembly is already looking at the lifespan of consumer goods. Bill 197, which is still being examined, aims to introduce a sustainability rating for goods indicating the mean time to first failure. A label would be affixed on each good, whether it is offered for sale or rent, and the consumer would know in advance how long it is meant to last.

I will be interested to see how this bill evolves, as it will certainly affect legal warranties. There are two types of warranties when you make a purchase. The legal warranty covers the normal use of a good during its average lifespan, while the conventional warranty is a protection agreed upon between the buyer and the seller.

When I was in high school, I loved reading Garfield comics. This morning, I remembered one particular strip, which I managed to find on the Internet. It shows the gears in Jon's watch popping out, an electric mixer going up in flames and ejecting its beaters, smoke billowing out of the TV and all the appliances exploding at the same time. Garfield runs to the dresser where Jon keeps his papers, starts reading the warranties and discovers that they all expired the day before.

It would be interesting to see how a sustainability rating might affect legal warranties.

Quebec's bill covers all the bases because it will also state that replacement parts, tools, and maintenance and repair services must be made available to consumers. In addition, the bill will prevent retailers and manufacturers from refusing to honour a warranty on the grounds that the item was repaired by someone other than the retailer, as long as the repair was carried out by a repair person certified by Quebec's consumer protection bureau.

That reiterates what I just heard from the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, who wanted to make sure that we work with the provinces to ensure that the two bills align. From what I understand, that will already be the case in Quebec. What is more, it is even better that the House is considering this type of bill. These bills are not contradictory. In fact, they are complementary. People in Quebec will not be able to invoke the Copyright Act to thwart the Quebec National Assembly's plans to implement Bill C-244. That is really good, because it is not very often that the two governments complement rather than contradict each other.

I talked about planned obsolescence, which is psychological, as it relates to the fashion industry, and about the lifespan of objects, which we have a little bit less control over. However, the aspect that really interests us is the digital lock that prevents repairs from being done. Sometimes it is not really worth it for consumers to get things repaired because they have to go through the manufacturer, which can easily control how much the repairs will cost since it has a monopoly. In the end, it is sometimes cheaper to just throw the object out and get a new one.

Bill C‑244 states that “a person who circumvents a technological protection measure that controls access to a computer program if the person does so for the sole purpose of diagnosing, maintaining or repairing a product in which the computer program is embedded” is not violating the Copyright Act. The same goes for individuals who make a program, tool or device, also allowing them to circumvent the Copyright Act. The aim is therefore to protect these two categories of people, to make it much easier to repair an item without being subject to a form of control and monopoly by the manufacturers.

If we look at this in very concrete terms and think about objects designed for planned obsolescence, it could have an impact. This was mentioned earlier. The member for Windsor West was working on a bill to ensure that cars would not to be subject to the same kind of problem. This was not done through legislation, but it finally worked through an agreement. This is a good example of one way in which repairability was improved.

We know that cars are increasingly incorporating technology. Drivers can now leave their key with the dealer and the mechanic can run diagnostic tests on the car from that key. That is a clear example of getting around the repairability problem.

The Conservative members talked about this. I remember an anecdote I heard in the last Parliament, about a farmer who had to drive four or five hours to get to a specific manufacturer to get a repair done. There is already an environmental cost associated with planned obsolescence. Add to that the travel for getting a part repaired, and it starts to get completely ridiculous.

That is a problem we have seen with John Deere. It has embraced the concept of programmed obsolescence so completely that when it manufactures and sells tractors, it sells the tractor, but not the technology that goes with it. There is a specific clause in the sales contract saying that the farmer is buying the tractor, but not the operating software, which remains the property of the company.

Speaking of John Deere, I want to take a moment to share my four-and-a-half-year-old niece's favourite joke: “Honey, why are John Deere tractors green?” “I don't know. Ask John, Deere.” I want to give a shout-out to my niece Jeanne and her parents, my sister Karine and her partner Alex.

John Deere has this problem, and so does Apple. Almost all of us have a phone, computer or other device from Apple. Not only does Apple have the audacity to prohibit owners from having their devices repaired by a competitor, but it also patented all of its parts and components to ensure that no one could duplicate them to repair an Apple product.

This bill could impact a large number of sectors. Bill C‑244 will help address the unfortunate fact that far too many products are being thrown away instead of repaired.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 8th, 2022 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my role as critic, I rise today to speak to Bill C-244, which was introduced by the member for Richmond Centre. As we mentioned, this bill is a carbon copy of Bill C‑272, which was introduced in the last Parliament by the member for Cambridge, who sits beside the member for Richmond Centre. The House studied the former bill before the election was called, and members will recall that the Conservatives supported Bill C‑272 up to clause-by-clause consideration.

Therefore, I wish to inform the House that the official opposition will support Bill C‑244 at second reading so that it may be studied clause by clause at a parliamentary committee, where all viewpoints will be heard, which is logical and part of our job. There are some exciting, interesting and appealing views on this bill, as well as other views that provide a different perspective and a better understanding of the situation, and that also reveal flaws that can be corrected by a parliamentary committee, if necessary.

Bill C‑244 is essentially about copyright, but in simpler terms, it is about the right to repair.

We have all developed new habits as consumers. We buy electronics. Usually, if there is a problem, we open the case and try to figure out what is going on. If we cannot figure it out, we throw out the item and buy a new one.

In the not-too-distant past, whenever we ran into a problem with a household device or appliance, such as a toaster or washing machine, we would open it up and, with a little imagination, we might be able to repair it or at least find a solution. Now, though, these things get thrown out.

One positive outcome of Bill C‑244 would be that people would be allowed to repair things themselves. In addition, the bill would prevent broken devices and appliances from being sent to landfill because the owners are not able to repair them themselves. This is an environmentally friendly approach.

The study of Bill C‑244 is part two of the debate that took place in the House two years ago. In preparing for this speech, I read what my colleagues said at that time, and I want to point out that the members for Cypress Hills—Grasslands and Peace River—Westlock made some very good observations based on their own personal experience.

Earlier, my colleague from Saskatchewan, a very young man, reminded the House that he grew up on a farm and that his father, his grandfather and his family worked directly with machinery. When the machinery broke down, they repaired it. In those days, we repaired things. In those days, people helped each other. They would get on the phone and call the local store, which would suggest another local store where the replacement part could be found, and then they would replace the part themselves.

Today, it is much more difficult. When we look under the hood or check out a part, there is often a computer, an integrated circuit or microchips. Not everyone can repair those things themselves or reprogram the equipment.

Many people will bypass this computer or high-tech device and try to repair the item, but doing that could potentially create even more problems.

This is why there must be a good framework surrounding the practice of the right to repair, not only for citizens, for consumers, but also for businesses in our communities. They do not necessarily have a direct connection with the product manufacturer. That is where the nuance lies, and the devil is in the details. This is why we must ensure that Bill C‑244 is drafted properly.

We understand that the digital world of the 21st century presents new challenges, but we must allow people to continue to have the right to repair and not always be held hostage to the original manufacturer by having to send the product back for repair at the consumer's expense. The manufacturer can assume total control by permanently sealing its product, but this choice takes away the consumer's first recourse and hurts regional or local businesses that could help fix the problem.

This is the second time the subject has come up in the House. It is the second time because there was an election. I will not get into that because we are trying to be positive, constructive and non-partisan today.

I should point out that the House of Commons in Ottawa is not the only place people are talking about this. As the member for Richmond Centre, the bill sponsor, said earlier, nearly 20 states in the United States are also bringing in legislation about this and European countries are doing likewise, so Canada really needs to look at the best way legislation can address this issue.

It is also important to understand that right to repair is a provincial matter. That is why it is important to be careful here. We must ensure that we are not interfering in provincial jurisdiction. Rather, we need to make it possible for provinces to change their laws to allow the right to repair if that is what they want to do. We are opening the door for them to do that in accordance with the framework set out in Bill C‑244, so it is important to make sure the bill says exactly that.

Now let us talk about the impact this will have on warranties. By law, when someone buys a product, it must come with a warranty. To what extent does the warranty apply if the consumer takes the item apart, especially if they take the computer apart? We need to ensure that the impact on warranties is carefully considered, that the impact on provincial laws is examined and that there are no adverse effects on people who tinker with the insides of a product.

Obviously, there are many concerns that need to be clearly defined in this bill. That is why, when we were debating this in the previous Parliament, it got a little heated at times because not everyone agreed, which is just fine. That is a good thing. That is called democracy, and that is what it means to get to the bottom of things to avoid problems in the future. Without wishing to make a pun on the bill before us, once a law is passed and locked down, it has to come back to the House if it needs to be changed or amended. Once it is voted on, we have to live with it, so we have to make sure we do not need to fix it too often along the way.

That is why, over the past few years, some people have spoken out against the approach of the previous bill, Bill C‑272. Representatives from the equipment manufacturers association, a very powerful group in the agricultural sector, said that it was a fundamental issue for them and that the bill was far too vague. I presume that, during clause-by-clause consideration, we will have the opportunity to hear these dissenting voices, which are telling us that the bill is too vague and that there is too much room for interpretation. We will have to fix this and ensure that the bill is not too vague.

I want to quote the CEO of Brandt Tractor. He said that this is a terrible legislation and that this kind of legislation kills all dealers like Brandt Tractor and hurts manufacturers.

Certain industry groups directly affected by this bill have also warned that it is a little too vague and that it will have a direct impact on all the small businesses currently working in this area.

I repeat that the official opposition agrees with the principle of this bill at second reading. We will move forward because we understand that there are positive impacts for Canada's rural communities if farmers, among others, are allowed to continue repairing their equipment without any fear of repercussions. We also understand that this has environmental benefits. It is preferable to repair equipment than to throw it away. This can give an item a second, third or fourth life instead of it being thrown in the garbage right away, with all the environmental impact that can have.

We are also aware of the impact the bill will have on industry, on how things are done and on local businesses, and we must consider that. If we see that certain clauses of the bill need to be amended, added or removed, we will be open to doing that.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 8th, 2022 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-244 addresses the right to repair for all Canadians. I know the member for Windsor West previously tabled a bill similar to this for the auto industry. I understand that it was at a point where voluntarily the automotive industry had exemptions for the right to repair. However, it is not mandatory, and right now the right to repair framework has yet to address this issue further. I look forward to more discussion and also debate with members of the House to better improve the bill.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 8th, 2022 / 1:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Richmond Centre for his speech and his Bill C‑244.

I see that he is sitting next to the member for Cambridge, who introduced a similar bill, and I just want to say hi because we both sit on the Standing Committee on National Defence. That member's bill was passed unanimously at second reading. Unfortunately, there was an election, and the bill died on the Order Paper.

Is the member for Richmond Centre hopeful that we will be able to pass this bill quickly, given that members not only reached a consensus about it but were unanimously in favour? Here in the House of Commons, we have to take advantage when that happens.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 8th, 2022 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

moved that Bill C-244, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand here today in the House to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-244, an act to amend the Copyright Act, which would allow Canadians the right to diagnosis, maintenance and repair. This bill was tabled previously by the member for Cambridge, and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their work.

It is a great privilege to be drawn so early for Private Members' Business on such an important bill. This bill is part of the mandate letter for the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. In the last Parliament, all parties in the House unanimously supported this bill. It was discussed in the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology before the House rose.

Bill C-244 would fundamentally change the way consumers interact with the products they purchase with their hard-earned money. Introducing the right to repair would allow for wide-ranging solutions to some of the world's most pressing environmental issues. It would better inform Canadians of the environmental impacts coming from the products they purchase. This bill is non-partisan and would benefit all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

It would create a pathway for a right-to-repair framework to be implemented within our provincial and territorial governments. The right-to-repair framework is a multi-dimensional issue. It is an important consideration for consumer protection, for competition and for intellectual property. The right to repair takes a user-friendly approach and responds to some of the most common consumer problems in allowing repairs to be made locally while also driving technological innovation. It is my sincere hope that this bill will be supported by my fellow members of the House.

The lifetime of electronics has diminished dramatically over the past decade, with consumers finding it to be more cost-effective to replace their broken items rather than repair them. This means that Canadians are not only paying more for the products they are using; they are also using them for less time. Ever-increasing numbers of products are ending up in landfills. There are over 20 million tonnes of electronic waste across the world right now as a result of the lifespan of devices being limited by planned obsolescence.

Planned obsolescence refers to the shortening of a product's useful life and making it out of date within a short period of time. This practice is costing thousands of dollars every year for middle-class families, many of whom are already feeling the effects of rising inflation due to the pandemic. This practice is creating a significant environmental impact, which Bill C-244 proposes to address.

This bill would protect consumers, create a positive impact on their savings account and contribute to a sustainable future. By introducing a limited scope of change to allow the diagnosis, maintenance or repair of a product, we would be reducing waste to our landfills and extending the lifespan of a product. The introduction of a right-to-repair framework would reduce the detrimental mining currently required to produce new products and conserve the country's precious natural resources.

Activists and organizations around the world have been advocating adoption of the right to repair. This movement began during the infancy of the computer era in the 1950s. I am pleased to bring forth this bill today in the House.

The Copyright Act prevents repairs to copyrighted products, although nothing is being copied or distributed. This is beyond the scope of the purpose for which the legislation was intended. This practice could be considered anti-competitive in nature, which brings into question the legality of the Copyright Act. Industry players and lobbyists have suggested that intellectual property rights, security and safety concerns should limit a consumer's right to repair, but it should not be that way.

Years ago, products were made with simple parts without the use of smart technologies. Now everything from washing machines to video game consoles are customizable. While this brings a huge advantage to the informed consumer, the cost of repairs associated with smart devices can add up quickly.

This can cost the average Canadian more time and money in the long term. The right to repair can extend the life of a product by allowing manufacturers to supply information and spare parts and to facilitate replication after the part is no longer produced. Without the proposed right to repair amendment, if consumers decided to circumvent a technological protection measure, also known as a TPM, they could face legal consequences, simply for trying to repair their own product.

TPMs are put in place by the manufacturer to control and limit the use of a product, preventing the modification of the original work. Currently, it is illegal to circumvent technological protection measures in Canada. TPMs can restrict access to the basic information needed for diagnosis, maintenance or repair. They can also prevent repairs from being completed at all.

I believe the owner of a product should have the right to repair it. Copyright exists to protect the intellectual property and the original work of its creator. It ensures that programmers, developers and artists are fairly compensated for their contributions. As technology becomes more important in our daily lives, the use of our digital devices will become more relied upon for everyday services. Under the Copyright Act, the costs associated with ownership are significant and reoccurring. The right to repair can provide a road map to address these concerns.

Bill C-244 ensures that everyone has fair access to user manuals and software updates for their products. This bill will pave the way for making more parts and tools available. In the future, products can be designed in a more sustainable way and these repairs can be made easily by a third party. Providing these options is crucial, which we have seen during the pandemic, as Canadians rely on their digital devices to do their jobs and communicate safely with their loved ones.

Within the technology sector, reuse is the best green policy. Some of the most common repairs can cause malfunctions due to TPMs embedded within the product. A local repair shop could be making these repairs with a right to repair framework. Repair shops have access to replacement parts for limited products, but many businesses are avoiding this option due to the legal challenges that are placed on them. This means higher costs for Canadians, with more items being sent to landfills before they need to be. Bill C-244 seeks to avoid future problems with the Copyright Act by ensuring that repairs can be completed safely and efficiently.

Canada employs a voluntary exemption in the automotive industry, and Canadians can bring their vehicles to a local repair shop for this reason, supporting a local business in the process. Within the agriculture sector, farming equipment has different requirements. The Copyright Act can prevent farmers from repairing their equipment safely. As the cost of living continues to increase, this becomes very important to consider. Our country’s farmers have been hit hard by the lack of a right to repair framework. It is my hope to provide Canadians with the replacement parts they need for a fair price and close to home. Offering secure options for repairs will provide peace of mind when something goes wrong.

In the medical sector, equipment became critical for many hospitals. Some of the most expensive equipment can make emergency repairs difficult. Repair technicians have been denied access to repair information and medical equipment since the pandemic began. Technicians should be allowed to repair equipment and perform diagnostic tests. We simply cannot leave hospitals and patients stranded during the worst pandemic we have experienced in our lives. We should allow the repairs hospitals need to care for our friends and family.

Many countries are committed to a sustainable future. The United States government also supported a right to repair framework, and 19 states now have their own right to repair measures. European countries are also legislating in this area as of 2021, where manufacturers can provide spare parts for simple and safe repairs. This legislation also requires that manufacturers can make other parts available to repair shops across Europe.

Clearly, it is time to address the limitations of the Copyright Act in Canada now.

Bill C-244 would change the definition of a technological protection measure; apply it to the software and computer programs within the product; allow circumvention of an encrypted program under section 41 of the Copyright Act; allow for the transfer of devices to service providers solely for the purpose of diagnosis, maintenance and repair; and most importantly, allow Canada to be a leader in sustainable consumerism.

Individuals will seek out the most cost-effective option when considering the repair or replacement of a product. The right to repair framework works within the free market system, allowing consumers to choose the best option for them. This provides continued innovation and growth when bringing new products to the market.

Let me be clear on the limitations of this bill, to address any pressing concerns of the members of the House. The circumvention of the TPMs would be allowed for the sole purpose of diagnosis, maintenance and repair only. Any other circumvention would be considered illegal. This would not rewrite the Copyright Act. The protection of the original work would remain, with legal options available against those who would violate the copyright illegally.

By creating a limited scope of change, Canadians would have the power to repair their own products. This change is designed to put a measure of control back into the hands of Canadians. Let us give hard-working Canadians repair options and save them money in the process. Let us work together in building a greener future for everyone and for our future generations to enjoy.

It is my sincere hope that fellow members in the House see the benefit for Canadians in the proposed amendment and will vote together in support of the right to repair. I urge all members of the House to join me in supporting this bill, and I look forward to any questions and debates from my colleagues.

We must ensure Canada is a global leader in sustainable consumerism and a strong champion for consumer rights.

Copyright ActRoutine Proceedings

February 8th, 2022 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Wilson Miao Liberal Richmond Centre, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-244, an act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair).

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to introduce my private member's bill, Bill C-244, an act to amend the Copyright Act, one part of our right to repair system in Canada.

I would like to start off by saying that this bill was previously tabled in February 2021 by my hon. colleague, the member for Cambridge, and made it through the committee studies. It is my honour to bring this bill back in the 44th Parliament because it is still critical to the protection of Canadian consumers and our environment.

The bill is aimed at addressing copyright that is being used to stop Canadians from repairing and maintaining items that have been purchased and are owned by Canadians. It is a targeted bill that creates specific exemptions to copyright. When an individual makes a purchase of an item, the owner should have a right to repair it and not be restricted by the manufacturer. Being able to repair the items we own is critical to the well-being of our environment.

Canada has the ability to be an international leader in sustainable consumerism and act as a model on how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle with the things we buy. Canadians work hard to purchase the things they own and should have a right to repair these items as well.

I look forward to the debate and the support of my colleagues in the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)