moved that Bill C-244, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair), be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise in this House today to speak on my private member’s bill, Bill C-244, an act to amend the Copyright Act by allowing circumvention solely for the purpose of diagnosis, maintenance and repair of a product with technological protection measures, TPMs.
In the world we live in today, our society is surrounded by an Internet of things, where most products are becoming more advanced through innovations and most products we purchase have some type of computer program built into them. Current technologies have made convenient impacts to our daily lives. However, they have also indirectly made the repair process difficult. Certain products that are protected by TPMs, often known as digital locks, might be difficult to circumvent and legally repair.
That is the reason it is important to enact this legislation. Bill C-244 is a crucial step toward the implementation of a right-to-repair framework on federal, provincial and territorial levels. This bill would contribute to our effort toward a more sustainable future by reducing planned obsolescence and reducing waste to be buried. Most importantly, this bill would put the right to repair back in the hands of consumers in Canada, allowing consumers to choose the best options for them without worrying about any legal consequences.
By amending the Copyright Act, Bill C-244 would pave the way for all levels of government to develop legislation on a right-to-repair framework. We have seen examples in Ontario and Quebec, where proposed policies on developing a right-to-repair framework did not succeed partly because of the Copyright Act. That is why Bill C-244 is critical to a right-to-repair policy reform in Canada, as this bill would carve out an exception for the purpose of diagnosing, maintaining and repairing products with an embedded computer program, without imposing significant penalties for unlawful circumvention.
Most products being offered and purchased today are made with planned obsolescence, limiting the lifespan of a product, and sometimes the cost to repair the broken product can cost more than purchasing a new replacement, which sometimes is better or with more upgrades. Also, the time it takes to repair, or simply wait for parts, can discourage consumers from choosing to repair over buying something new. As a result, more waste is in our landfills and more emissions and carbon footprint are generated from the process of manufacturing, transporting, disposing and much more.
With the implementation of Bill C-244, repairing a broken product would no longer be restricted with the amended Copyright Act. The circumvention of the TPMs would be legally allowed only for the sole purpose of diagnosis, maintenance and repair. It would grant consumers the right to repair and more control over their own purchases, allowing a product to extend its lifespan, reducing and conserving resources by promoting a more sustainable approach to manufacturing and consumption. During this challenging time in an affordability crisis, Bill C-244 can actually help consumers save money.
By reducing their dependence on costly authorized repair services and through the right to repair, broken or malfunctioning products are more likely to be repaired instead of being discarded, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and building a more environmentally sustainable society. Not only that, the right-to-repair movement can also foster a healthy competition among repair service providers, leading to more competitive and affordable repair options. This would not only support the growth in local small businesses, but promote job creation within the repair industry, growing our local economies.
These are reasons that Bill C-244 is important legislation toward the right to repair. This bill would help lead Canada into a more sustainable future and become a strong champion for consumer rights. This bill is good legislation that is meant for all consumers across Canada.
If Bill C-244 becomes law, it will allow federal, provincial and territorial governments to implement further legislation on developing a right-to-repair framework across Canada. It will empower all of us as lawmakers to further our joint effort in developing good policies that lead to sustainable consumerism.
Please allow me to extend my invitation to all consumers across Canada to join this collective effort to build a more sustainable and climate-resilient future, especially for our future generations. Every Canadian can contribute by choosing repair over a new purchase and sustainability over landfills, by protecting our environment and by supporting communities impacted by climate change from coast to coast to coast.
The Copyright Act, as it stands today, restricts the circumvention of TPMs that protect copyrighted content, making any circumventions illegal. Copyright exists to protect intellectual property and the original work of its creator, not to prevent repairs to copyrighted products, because nothing is being copied or distributed.
TPMs were originally created to encourage artists and creators to share their work in digital form without worrying that their work was being copied. As we advance into this modern world with the Internet of things, many products are embedded with a chip or some type of computer program. Manufacturers will use TPMs to protect the software incorporated within products, preventing modification of the original work. What I have been hearing is that some manufacturers use TPMs to control and limit the use of a product.
TPMs can also restrict access to the basic information needed for diagnosis, maintenance or repair, or can prevent repairs from happening at all. This restriction limits consumers' right to repair, and in many cases, only manufacturers or authorized repair services have the tools and parts to bypass these restrictions.
The intention of the Copyright Act was not to prevent Canadians from repairing products with embedded software. Copyright-protected content, in certain ways, is being used as a barrier to Canadians who want to repair their products. Bill C-244 would remove that barrier by creating a new exemption permitting the circumvention of TPMs for the sole purpose of diagnosis, maintenance and repair so that the Copyright Act does not prevent Canadians from repairing the products they own or use. The impacts of this bill would be tremendous.
Some witnesses at the standing committee raised concerns over health and safety, cybersecurity and environmental risks that may result from the circumvention of TPMs and the repair of products. They asked for the exclusion of certain categories of products from the application of Bill C-244. I sincerely appreciate that these industry representatives voiced their concern during the study of this bill for our legislative process.
The Copyright Act is a law of general application, the purpose of which is to grant exclusive rights over creative works. It is more desirable that these concerns be addressed in regimes that already regulate those categories of products. Bill C-244 would not prevent these regimes from regulating repairs or addressing issues that may arise in the repair of certain products.
As an example, I was honoured to have the opportunity to meet with some representatives from one of the world's leading medical technology industries. They shared with me that this amendment to the Copyright Act might create a grey area that would legally allow someone to fix medical equipment without oversight. However, Bill C-244 would not override any regulation, such as by Health Canada in this case on medical equipment. Only licensed technicians with relevant training and experience could repair broken or malfunctioning medical equipment, while meeting the standards set out by Health Canada.
How I see this bill impact this industry, and many other industries, is by enacting future right to repair legislation on allowing certified technicians in hospitals and other industries to have access to repair manuals and parts available, which will make a difference as serious as between life and death.
I also had the pleasure of hearing from representatives from the automotive industry. They shared with me that this bill will encourage fair play, create competition and make repair more accessible for Canadians. With Bill C-244, Canadians would be able to drive up to a local repair shop and not be restricted to a dealer's authorized repair shop to have their vehicle serviced and repaired. What we need is to provide the tools for technicians at repair shops to access the data of vehicles that TPMs limit. With this access, technicians can provide quality services for diagnosis, maintenance and repair to vehicle owners.
Over this summer, I travelled to our Prairie provinces. For the first time, I was able to see, in person, the huge combines and tractors that can harvest thousands of acres. It was truly remarkable and just amazing. I had the pleasure of speaking with farmers who shared with me that many farmlands are generationally owned through family legacy. It is this time of the year, the harvesting crop year, that our Prairie farmers are busy at work. They are the hard-working Canadians who help put food on our table and bring the agriculture and agri-food sector of Canada to the international stage. Yet, the harvesting season can vary significantly from year to year, depending on changes in weather pattern. With climate change, we have seen the devastating impacts of droughts, flooding, wildfires and other extreme weather events across Canada. These unexpected conditions can cause severe damage to the yield each year.
For farmers in a more remote area, if their equipment breaks down during the midst of harvesting, travelling to a nearby town can take hours, and that is not even saying how long it would take to go to the nearest authorized dealer for service and repair. During the busy harvesting season, parts for repair can be in demand and not readily available. Let us give our farmers the option to a more accessible right to repair.
I stand in this chamber to wish our farmers across Canada a great harvesting season this year and every year ahead.
I would like to ask every Canadian: Would it not be better if consumers could have the right to repair on products they purchase and own?
With that, I want to thank the House administration for the thorough work and support to all parliamentarians on the work we do in this chamber. I give special thanks to the Library of Parliament and the Clerk of the House.
I would also like to thank the hon. member for Cambridge for all his hard work tabling this bill in the last Parliament and for seconding Bill C-244 during its second reading. As well, I thank the honourable member for Vancouver Granville for seconding my private member's bill at this third reading stage. I also want to take this opportunity to wish him an early happy birthday.
I thank all the witnesses for presenting their views and providing their input and comments on this bill. I also want to thank every hon. member of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology for their thoughtful input and study on this bill.
To the stakeholders across Canada who took the time to share their input with me, I thank them for their continued support and championship for the right to repair.
Most importantly, I want to thank all my constituents and the people of Richmond Centre. Without their trust and support, I would not have the privilege to table this important bill.
It is with great gratitude and appreciation to colleagues from all parties and the House that I was able to rise today to speak on my private member’s bill.