Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to this extremely important legislation.
I would be remiss if I did not preface my comments by mentioning the previous member who spoke talking about where our artists are working, whether they are successful and whether they are able to work in Canada. The reality is that for world-class artists, it is not Canada and it is not the United States. It is the entire globe.
We live in a global economy and our artists do well when they can work on a global scale. We do not have to be so parochial that we cannot see beyond our neighbour, beyond our provincial boundaries or beyond our country's boundaries. If we want to be successful today, we need to work on a world scale. Our artists are able to do that because they have been supported and nurtured by both provincial and federal governments in this country and are first class artists in their own right. The idea that we would deny them competition, deny them the ability and that we would keep them poor and enslaved is totally unfathomable to me.
In our government's last Speech from the Throne we announced our intention to reintroduce and seek swift passage of legislation to modernize Canada's copyright law. I am proud to say that we are well on our way to fulfilling this commitment.
On September 29, 2011, our government introduced a modern, forward-looking copyright bill, a bill that would promote innovation and job creation, a bill that would help attract new investment to Canada. In short, this bill is a good news story for Canada.
Bill C-11 represents a balanced approach to copyright reform that would give creators and copyright owners a full range of rights and protections needed to compete on the world stage. At the same time, the bill also recognizes the many ways in which Canadians can make use of copyrighted material.
Today I will draw attention to the many ways in which Canada's creative community would benefit from Bill C-11.
The bill provides a clear framework that would allow creators to take full advantage of the vast number of opportunities presented by today's digital world. This is important. As the Canadian Publishers Council has stated loud and clear, we all benefit from strong and precise copyright legislation that provides incentives that protect rights holders while in this highly competitive economy. This bill would do just that, which is why it has received so much support across this great country.
The copyright modernization bill would bring Canada in line with international standards by implementing the rights and protections of the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaty. The bill would also ensure that creators are able to control the first sale of every copy of their work. In doing so, Bill C-11 would protect the incentive to create and would give copyright owners effective tools to fight against piracy.
As I mentioned earlier, these provisions have been greeted with widespread support, including from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, which described our government's copyright legislation as good public policy and critical to the success of Canada's digital economy.
Considering the clear benefits of Bill C-11, it is no wonder that its swift passage is being urged on and encouraged by so many Canadians. The bill is long overdue, as the copyright modernization bill has already undergone a very extensive review.
In the last Parliament, more than 70 witnesses appeared before a legislative committee and over 150 written briefs were submitted.
Earlier this year, the committee tasked with studying Bill C-11 heard from an additional 50 new witnesses and it also received approximately 100 new written submissions.
The committee recently completed a clause by clause examination of the bill. It adopted some amendments that clarified certain provisions and some of them reflect recommendations put forward by members of the creative community.
Let me tell the House about some of those amendments.
As mentioned, Bill C-11 would give creators and copyright owners the tools to go after those who enable infringement, while maintaining a balance with the rights of consumers. The government's efforts to target those who enable and profit from copyright infringement has been applauded by members of the creative community.
However, the committee recognized the concern expressed by these groups that the enablers provision should be strengthened. Specifically, they were worried that the language used in the bill may have inadvertently allowed large-scale enablers to escape liability. The committee has responded to this concern. It adopted amendments that close any loophole that may have existed that could have inadvertently afforded protection to enablers. In doing so, we are sending an even clearer message that facilitating copyright infringement is not welcome in Canada.
Because Bill C-11 is about balance, the new rights and protection it includes for creators are accompanied by a number of exceptions for use, including exceptions that would allow Canadians to benefit from digital technology. For instance, the bill would allow Canadians to time-shift and format-shift. This would enable them to enjoy legally obtained copyrighted material at the time and in the way they choose, as long as it is done for private purposes.
These exceptions have elicited widespread support, especially from those devoted to the teaching and education of our children. The Council of Ministers of Education has stated:
This legislation provides the clarity we have been looking for.... It is excellent that the bill allows students and educators to use Internet materials in their learning and teaching without fear of copyright infringement.
It is worth just taking a look at that phrase one more time. One of the great challenges in this piece of legislation was to find a balance between reliable, honest Internet use and copyright infringement. We needed to find a balance that would allow our educators and our students to access the Internet; however, we also needed to protect the rights of the people who own that copyrighted material. Every single minister of education in Canada has agreed that this piece of legislation finds that balance.
I realize that we have a number of people in the House who appear to think they know more than every single minister of education in this country, but the reality is that this has been embraced by the education community. It has been looked at, as I said earlier in my remarks, as a balanced piece of legislation. It has received extremely widespread support.
However, the committee also recognized concerns raised by some copyright owners that these exceptions could be misinterpreted. Copyright owners indicated that people might think it is legal, for example, to copy a movie from someone else's personal collection to their own tablets as long as the recording is being used for private purposes. This of course was never the intent of the bill's format-shifting and time-shifting exceptions.
In response to this concern, the committee adopted an amendment that makes it crystal clear that these exceptions would only apply when it comes to the private purpose of the individual who has legally obtained the copyrighted material other than by borrowing it or renting it. It would ensure that the measures proposed in Bill C-11 would work the way they are supposed to.
All the amendments I have described support the overall balance of the bill. These changes ensure that the rules of copyright are clear and predictable. The needs and the interests of both consumers and creators have been carefully considered.
Copyright clearly plays a critical role for Canada's creative community. It needs a modern copyright regime that reflects the reality of the digital age. The bill we have before us today would do just that. Bill C-11 is a common sense approach to copyright. It would bring the Copyright Act in line with our G8 trading partners.
Bill C-11 in its current form would provide our nation's creative economy with the edge needed to thrive in the competitive global market. It would, in the words of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, lay “the foundation for future economic growth and job creation”.
It is time we brought Canada's copyright law into the 21st century. I urge my colleagues on every side of the House to join me in supporting the bill. This is timely, good and balanced legislation.