Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My name is Jacob Glick. I am Google's Canada policy counsel.
It's my pleasure to talk to you today about copyright law, not only because I'm a copyright law nerd, but also because copyright law has become an increasingly important public policy issue for everyday Canadians.
My plan, in the 9.721 minutes I have remaining, is to touch on Google's commitment to Canada and discuss how the framework established in Bill C-11 is critical to jobs, growth, culture, and productivity.
Let me begin by discussing Google in Canada. We have offices in Kitchener--Waterloo, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. In addition to adding people and space in Kitchener--Waterloo, Google is poised to reopen our expanded Montreal office. If I have time in the questions I'll tell you all about the climbing wall connecting the first and second floors in that office.
Google is consistently named one of the best places to work in Canada. Google Canada increased its employment by over 50% last year, and expects continued hiring growth in 2012. Through the “Get Your Business Online” program, Google is helping over 60,000 Canadian businesses get online for free. Our engineers in Montreal and Kitchener--Waterloo are developing products used by hundreds of millions of people all around the world. These engineering offices are expanding and will continue to generate highly skilled, knowledge-based jobs right here in Canada.
I am pleased to say that Google supports Bill C-11. It's not perfect, but perfection is rarely possible on complex public policy issues with a wide variety of divergent stakeholders. Of course, like many stakeholders we suggest some technical amendments to ensure that the stated purposes of the bill are reflected in the language. These suggestions, which have been provided to the clerk of the committee, are submitted on behalf of Google and Yahoo.
In addition, we support the amendments put forward by the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, a coalition of Internet, telecom, mobile, and retail companies and trade associations that appeared previously before the Bill C-32 committee.
While we have taken positions on a number of aspects of the bill, I want to focus my remarks on two issues: the non-commercial, user-generated content provisions; and the appropriate role of online intermediaries.
First, on non-commercial user-generated content, the Internet and digital technology have democratized the economics of content, production, promotion, and distribution. Never before in the history of mass communication has it been so easy for an individual to create and disseminate content reaching global audiences with ease. In 2011 alone, hundreds of thousands of hours of new Canadian content was uploaded to YouTube. The vast majority of this new Canadian content was non-commercial and user-generated.
Members are likely aware of Maria Aragon, the Winnipeg pre-teen whose Lady Gaga cover got her global recognition from an audience as diverse as Lady Gaga herself and Prime Minister Harper. The provisions in Bill C-11 that protect non-commercial, user-generated content can help nurture the next generation of artists like Maria, who will help tell and shape Canada's story without risk of lawsuit. As long as they meet the reasonable conditions set out by the bill, these artists will be free to experiment, re-mix, and mash-up content.
The Internet also makes it easier than ever for creators to move from the non-commercial world to the commercial one. Canadians have proven remarkably adept at becoming commercial successes online.
One of my favourite examples is Haligonian Andrew Grantham. He produces talking animal videos on YouTube. One could make the case that Haligonian Grantham was the most-watched Canadian entertainer last year anywhere in the world. His “Ultimate Dog Tease” video was the second-most-popular video on the planet. This is Canadian content, popular on its own merit, shaping a global discourse.
Bill C-11's protections for non-commercial, user-generated content will be important to creative communities in Canada. They allow creators to continue to confidently share their creations online with the world, and help foster the next generation of commercial successes.
The second issue I want to address is the appropriate role of Internet intermediaries.
In general, we support the Internet intermediary safe harbour provisions in Bill C-11. I'd like to offer some evidence on how important clarity on these provisions can be to the growth of the online economy.
One of the critical issues the government has identified in this bill is ensuring that copyright law doesn't hinder the development of cloud computing in Canada. This is an important exercise, as the wrong legal framework could slow or handicap investment in Canadian cloud services.
A recent study by the Harvard Business School looked at the impact of a U.S. court decision on investments in cloud computing in the U.S. and the EU. The case in question was brought against Cablevision by a consortium of U.S. TV networks. The networks claimed that Cablevision's network PVR service violated copyright, and the courts disagreed.
The court decision clarified the U.S. rules around cloud computing generally. In Europe, that kind of legal clarity on cloud computing hasn't been developed yet. So the Harvard researchers compared investments in cloud computing in the U.S. with investments in Europe. After the Cablevision decision, investments in cloud computing increased by as much as $1.3 billion in the U.S., and Europe lost out.
The Harvard study shows that clarity on copyright may be the single most important factor in determining whether investment flows in the online economy to one jurisdiction or another.
Another study, by Booz & Company, on U.S. angel investors and VCs and their attitudes toward copyright, underscored this point. It found that 80% of investors are uncomfortable investing in business models that are open to unpredictable regulations. Additionally, 81% of investors also said that weakened copyright safe harbour rules would be more likely to slow their investment decisions than would a weakening economy.
To reiterate, for these investors, bad copyright law, with insufficient safe harbours for online intermediaries, is worse than a recession. The study showed that investors want to see clearly defined legislation to protect intermediaries who are acting in good faith. The study concludes that the net benefit of appropriate protections for intermediaries could more than double the pool of investors.
Both of these studies demonstrate how important it is for investment, growth, and productivity that government get the legal regime right. Largely, Bill C-11 succeeds in this task. There are a few amendments Google and Yahoo recommend to provide clarity to ensure that the companies and investors make Canada a leader in cloud computing. The clerk has been provided with these.
You have the amendments put forward by the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, which we also support. We would also urge you to avoid amending the enabler provision in a way that would put at risk the safe harbours in Bill C-11 and consequently chill investment in cloud computing.
Let me conclude by saying that Canadian content is succeeding online. Canadians have embraced the open Internet, and they benefit from the increased choice and competition it provides. Clearly, we are in the midst of a new era of individual creativity, facilitated by the Internet. With this legislation, the government is protecting an important creative platform, allowing for the creation of new Canadian cultural content, and helping to grow a critically important Internet economy.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak today, and for those of you playing the home game, I tweet at jacobglick.
I'm happy to answer your questions.