Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I'm delighted to be here, and I'm very pleased to have with me Mr. Lee Webster, who's a partner with Osler's, and who's also the chair of the Canadian chamber's intellectual property committee and a member of the Canadian Intellectual Property Council.
Mr. Chairman, our members see the bill as a piece of the larger puzzle of innovation in Canada. Many companies, big and small, rely on the protection of intellectual property rights to maintain their businesses. Updated copyright legislation will bring Canada in line with other major industrialized countries and establish rules of the road for downloading and file sharing on the Internet. It will also position Canada to finally ratify the WIPO Internet treaties that Canada signed in 1997.
Some say that Bill C-32 will prevent Canadians from listening to music and watching movies on their portable devices. That's false!
Businesses in Canada don't want to stop people from enjoying their media, but rules do have to be established so that illegal commercial operations are stopped. What we need is to establish a marketplace framework that will support development of new digital products, services, platforms, and business models and make it clear what kinds of behaviour are legitimate and what kinds are prohibited. We have to strike a balance between the interests of consumers and those of rights holders.
Generally, we believe the government has done a good job in striking the right balance, and we support the principles of the legislation. I can certainly tell you, Mr. Chairman, that striking the appropriate balance to establish good public policy is not an easy task. I can commiserate because I had the responsibility for the copyright file when I was Minister of Communications in the early 1990s. Both the Conservatives and the Liberals put legislation on the table in recent years only to have the bills die on the order paper, and we're anxious to see this new bill passed to clarify rights and responsibilities for both businesses and consumers. So perhaps the third time is a charm.
Now, strong copyright protection will benefit communities across Canada, and here are some examples. In Toronto, there are over 3,300 high-tech companies, generating revenues over $32.5 billion annually and employing 148,000 people. In Kitchener-Waterloo, there are over 700 high-tech companies, generating $18 billion annually and employing 30,000 people, with over 200 burgeoning start-ups. The Canadian video game industry generates billions annually and employs over 14,000 people across the country. Many major studios are in the Montreal area, such as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts and Behaviour, while St. Catharines is home to a prominent video game company, Silicon Knights, which employs over 100 people in high-value jobs.
In 2009-2010, the Quebec film and television industry generated an estimated $1.2 billion annually and created more than 36,000 jobs in the province.
IP is the economic currency of the future. Properly applied, IP rights drive job creation, economic growth, and innovation. As I mentioned, copyright is only part of the puzzle; patent and brand protection and promotion is also a key element in attracting and retaining businesses in Canada.
Leading economies around the world have made IP protection a priority. Japan has created an IP strategy council led by the Japanese Prime Minister. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy heads an anti-piracy commission to curtail Internet piracy. Clearly, other nations are effecting major changes in IP protection. If Canada does not soon follow suit, Canadian businesses risk being left at the periphery of the global economy.
By defining and better protecting IP rights, we'll develop a marketplace that rewards investments in innovation and creation. It will foster new business models that will lead to stronger economic growth, job creation, and prosperity. In modern developed nations like Canada, where services and innovation have become key economic drivers, and given our emphasis on the knowledge economy, doing so has never been more important.
Let's fix the unintended consequences in the drafting of the legislation and get this copyright bill passed. It's desperately needed to provide certainty to Canadian businesses. Mr. Chair, I simply plead with the committee this way. Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This represents our best chance to modernize.
I was looking at some of the comments that were made in Parliament and elsewhere. I think it may have been Mr. Angus who had made reference to the WIPO treaties reaching back into the past century. I was reminded of George Michael's CD, Songs from the Last Century. What we're talking about here are principles to update from the last century and to bring us into the 21st century. It's something that's critically important.
Since our time is limited for opening remarks, Lee will get into specific areas where we need amendments during the question period. Just to put it very simply, we need to see some clarifications or improvements in the areas of enabling infringement, encryption research, computer and network security, interoperability, reverse-engineering of software, user-generated content, online service provider liability or safe harbours, private copying and backups, and statutory damages.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We'd be very pleased to respond to questions.