Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see that the motion passed, as we now have the opportunity to have further debate. There has been significant debate already on this bill and I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise today to speak on the copyright modernization act.
This bill proposes amendments to the Copyright Act. As my colleagues know, our government made a firm commitment in the Speech from the Throne to introduce and seek swift passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users. Our government is delivering on this commitment. We all know there has been significant debate on this issue. In the last Parliament, I had the opportunity to chair the special legislative committee on Bill C-32, the exact same bill now before the House as Bill C-11.
I am happy to see that our government has taken this commonsense approach to modernizing the copyright laws in Canada. We have crafted a bill that differentiates between positive activities and illicit activities in the digital environment. Furthermore, this bill would make Canada an attractive location for creators, innovators and investors. In short, it is a key element of our government's commitment to help create jobs and build the industries of the future.
Our government recognizes that Canada must keep in step as countries around the world respond to the new realities posed by rapid technological change. Every day there is something newer, something faster or better out there for creators and users. Determined new competitors are rising. We need to keep pace. Canada must be prepared to compete in this global economy. This bill is an important tool in accomplishing this.
A modern copyright framework would strengthen Canada's competitive position. The copyright modernization act would bring our copyright law in line with advances in technology and current international standards. It would give Canadian creators and innovators the tools they need to keep Canada competitive internationally. It would implement the rights and protections of the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization's treaties, also known as the WIPO Internet treaties, which represent an international consensus on the standard of copyright protection.
I am sure that hon. members will recall that in the early 1990s, international discussions were initiated by WIPO member states on the type of copyright protection needed to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the Internet and other digital technologies. These treaties established new rights and protections for authors, sound recording makers and performers of audio works. They built on existing international frameworks found in the Berne and Rome conventions.
All these agreements established a minimum level of rights granted to creators under the national laws of WIPO member states. These WIPO standards have been implemented in more than 80 countries worldwide. Complying with them just makes sense. All of our major trading partners have ratified or acceded to these treaties, including the United States, the EU and its member states, and China, Japan and Mexico.
This bill seeks to protect the rights of Canadian creators in a number of areas that are as diverse as the works they create. To this end, the bill institutes new rights, such as the distribution right to control the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials; the making available right for performers and producers of sound recordings, who would enjoy an exclusive right to offer copyrighted material over the Internet; and moral rights for performers to ensure, for example, that a work is not altered in a way that harms an artist's reputation.
The bill would also provide new protections for our artists and creators. For example, it prohibits the circumvention of digital locks, as well as the removal of rights management information such as digital watermarks. It would also establish new rules that would prevent the manufacture, importation and sale of devices and services to break digital locks. In addition, with this bill the term of protection for sound recordings of performers and producers would be extended to 50 years from the time of publication of a musical performance.
I would also note that the bill would make photographers the first owners of the copyright of their photographs. The copyright would be protected for 50 years after the life of the photographer, harmonizing the treatment of photographers under Canada's copyright law with that of other creators. It would also harmonize with it the laws of many other countries. This would allow photographers to take advantage of opportunities in the global marketplace. At the same time, the people who commission photographs would be able to make personal or non-commercial use of the photos unless there were a contract that specified otherwise.
The bill would strengthen the ability of rights holders to control the use of their works online so that they can prevent widespread, illicit use and to promote legitimate business models. Such provisions include the creation of a new category of civil liability that targets those who enable online piracy.
The bill is also about meeting the needs of users. For example, under the fair dealings section, the bill adds education, parity and satire as purposes for which copyright works could be fairly used provided the use of the work does not unduly harm the legitimate interests of the copyright owner.
Finally, the bill introduces technological neutrality. By promoting creativity and innovation, our government is enabling the members of Canada's creative community to assume their rightful place alongside the best in the world.
Before I wrap up, I will say that there have been significant opportunities to debate this bill. In the last Parliament, there was Bill C-32 and there were previous bills in previous Parliaments. There has been more public consultation on this bill than on any other topic that we have dealt with in this House.
In the last Parliament, we saw that the committee, for which I had the honour of chairing, worked well together. The election was called and we never had the opportunity to have amendments to the bill at that point. I know the government is open to amendments and to some potential changes to this bill. We will have another couple of days of debate on this issue. I look forward to seeing this bill getting in front of committee. In the last Parliament the committee did work well together and there were opportunities to hear different viewpoints. This is a bill that is very complicated.
For those who are new members of Parliament, they will hear from a lot of different people about the various parts of this bill. There are many technical things to this bill. It does take a lot of effort to get up to speed and understand this bill. I encourage members to take the time to learn about this and the digital economy. I know many do know a lot about it.
We put this bill forward in the last Parliament and are now putting it forward in this Parliament to help create jobs and to protect jobs in Canada. I encourage the opposition and all members in this House to see this through to committee. I know that when this bill gets passed through second reading, the committee will do good work. I know there are many members of the public and many organizations who want to be in front of the committee to bring their concerns forward.
I look forward to this bill passing because it is something that is long overdue. It will be good for Canada, good for the economy, good for all people in Canada and good for creating jobs.