Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's nice to be back.
I will read a brief statement and then I will go into the questions.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which I lead, has a long history of support for measures to strengthen Canada's economy and to promote innovation. A strong regime of intellectual property protection and copyright is fundamental to that overall mission. Laws that protect and reward the fruits of intellectual capital and artistic creativity are critical to maintaining a dynamic, innovative, and open economy.
By the same token, the society has an interest in ensuring that consumers and other users enjoy fair and reasonable access to copyrighted material. This can only be achieved through a balanced approach to copyright protection. For that reason, we are supportive of Bill C-32.
This legislation is, as you know, the product of extensive national consultations, round tables, town halls and submissions from thousands of individuals and organizations across Canada.
Throughout this process, care has been taken to respect the concerns, needs and legitimate rights of everyone who creates, markets, distributes or in any way makes use of copyrighted material.
I'm aware that some Canadians are of the view that this bill goes too far in protecting the rights of creators and copyright holders.
Similarly, there are people who feel this bill gives too much freedom to consumers and other users.
This divergence of views is inevitable. The challenge in copyright law has always been to strike a balance between the interests of creators and those of the general public.
To my mind, there are four key elements of Bill C-32. First, it brings Canada's copyright rules into the 21st century by legitimizing some activities that consumers in fact do every day. This includes recording television programs for later viewing, transferring digital content from one format to another, and making backup copies, provided the original material was acquired legally and the copying is for consumers' personal use.
Second, the bill gives creators and copyright owners stronger legal tools to control how their works are made available and to guard against copyright violation. As other witnesses have pointed out, these provisions are needed to ensure that Canada does not become a haven for international music, movie, and software piracy.
Third, the bill will improve the learning experience for Canadian students by providing educational institutions, as well as libraries and museums, with enhanced access to copyrighted material. It does this in part by expanding the concept of “fair dealing” in a way that recognizes the significant societal benefits of education.
This is consistent with the recommendations of the Competition Policy Review Panel, which in its 2008 report identified the use of the Internet for research and education as a cornerstone of Canada's ability to innovate and compete in a knowledge economy.
Fourth, Bill C-32 encourages the growth of Internet services in Canada by providing legal clarity for network service providers, web-hosting services and search engines.
Under the new rules, ISPs will be exempt from liability when they act strictly as intermediaries in the communication of copyrighted material.
At the same time, the bill includes new provisions targeting those who knowingly enable copyright violations.
On behalf of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, I strongly endorse the overall thrust of this legislation.
Having said that, I think the committee may wish to consider certain technical changes to the bill so as to avoid unintended consequences. For example, important concerns have been raised with respect to the impact on Canada's software industry of the provisions dealing with encryption research, network security, reverse engineering, and copying for interoperability purposes.
In addition, some of the language dealing with user-generated content and copying for private purposes may be too broad, but I'll leave it to others to propose amendments that would address specific concerns while staying true to the spirit of the legislation.
Those issues aside, the bill generally strikes an appropriate balance among various stakeholder interests.
I note that Bill C-32 includes a mandated review of the Copyright Act by Parliament every five years. While it may not be possible to satisfy every demand of every group, this provision ensures that parliamentarians will have the tools to address unforeseen problems on the basis of experience. In that light, I urge you to move this bill forward as expeditiously as possible.
As others have noted, the Copyright Act was last revised when the Internet was in its infancy, and it badly needs updating to reflect the impact of new technologies on business practices and daily life.
Bill C-60, tabled in June 2005, and Bill C-61, tabled in June 2008, both died on the order paper after the dissolution of Parliament. If these hearings continue at the current pace, there just might be a danger that this bill, too, will die. That would not be in the interests of Canadian creators and it would not be in the interests of consumers.
Nor I suspect, would parliamentarians welcome the prospect of going back to the drawing board, with yet another round of consultations and hearings. Finally, I want to commend the committee for the work you are doing. I bear the scars of the last time Canada's copyright law was amended, and I am the first to admit that mediating among so many competing interests requires a great deal of care and effort.
I still bear some of the scars from that process.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I'd be pleased to respond to questions.