Mr. Speaker, I have carefully studied this bill. I have consulted with constituent, stakeholders and my fellow legislators and I have consulted carefully with members of the committee who studied the bill. After this research and consulting with stakeholders and people in my riding, I am happy to speak in support of Bill C-11.
I am proud that our government kept its promise to introduce this bill.
This is important legislation that would update Canada's copyright law so it would be responsible in the digital age. Copyright matters to Canadians from all walks of life. Whether they are creators or users of that copyrighted material, Canadians understand that copyright impacts their daily lives whether at work, at play or at school. They also recognize the importance of copyright in the digital economy and Canada's global competitiveness. The bill therefore reflects a common sense approach that addresses all these issues. It does so by taking a balanced approach to copyright modernization.
Given all these different interests in copyright modernization, there has been a lot of debate about the bill. This important legislation has been reviewed and studied in committee under two different Parliaments. These committees heard from dozens and dozens of individuals and organizations and they listened to these stakeholders. These included representatives of creator groups, high-tech businesses, consumer groups, publishers, broadcasters, educators, artists, telecommunications companies. As well, they received many written submissions from the general public. All these perspectives helped guide the current committee as it completed its review of the copyright modernization act.
In Bill C-11, the government has proposed a balanced approach to copyright modernization. This approach balances the needs of creators and users. Furthermore, this approach brings Canada's copyright laws into the 21st century and positions our country for success in the years to come. At the same time, the committee recognized that some tweaks, amendments and fixes were in order and it adopted a number of amendments. These amendments added clarity to certain provisions of the bill, improved our ability to implement the bill and improved fairness for users and producers.
I will speak now about some of these important amendments.
As members know, the proposals in Bill C-11 will help ensure that Canadians are able to enjoy their legally obtained copyrighted material when and how they want it. It does this through several measures that facilitate the use of copyrighted material for private use.
During the committee process, members heard that there was a lack of clarity about these private purposes that were being referred to in the bill. Accordingly, the committee adopted amendments that clarified the exceptions that would apply for private purposes, to ensure it referred to the individuals and not to all their friends to whom they wanted to give their privately obtained material. These amendments address the concerns about lack of clarity and we believe Canadians will see this is fair and that they will be better served by more precision and predictability.
Bill C-11 responds to the challenges presented by online copyright infringement. Many, but not all, of the concerns that I hear about the bill express a lament that people will be unable to legally steal copyrighted material anymore online and this is a bit disturbing for some people. The committee recognized the importance of putting in place measures to address online piracy. However, it recognized that the wording of the initial bill created confusion about its scope. Therefore, the committee supported changes to the bill to address this as well.
With these changes, our government is now sending an even clearer message that enabling online copyright infringement is not acceptable. Our government recognizes the significant harm illegal file sharing inflicts upon online businesses and software developers in Canada.
Bill C-11 would promote innovation in many ways, including through exceptions for activities related to computer programmer interoperability, encryption research and security testing of computers, networks and systems. However, there was concern that hackers could hide behind these exceptions to protect themselves from litigation. Therefore, the committee responded to this concern by adopting an amendment to ensure that Bill C-11 would not inadvertently protect unethical hackers who would seek to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and mobile devices.
With this amendment, Bill C-11 would ensure that innovators are still afforded the freedom needed to keep thinking about the future. At the same time, it would ensure that those who intend to take advantage of Canadian ingenuity are legally pursued. In short, the amendment would allow the bill to achieve its goals.
I mentioned that many of the concerns I have been hearing about the bill are based on a desire to continue to obtain copyrighted material and the notion that because it is in digital form, it is not stealing.
A lot of the concerns are based on misinformation, or misunderstanding which is based on misinformation which is often blatantly provided. A lot of the concerns raised, for example, are about students having to burn their notes at the end of the semester. Of course this is not true.
Basically the bill would bring us into the digital age.
Right now, if students are sitting in a real classroom and the professor shows a movie clip, they are not able to take the movie home and keep it. That is the only kind of thing that students are not able to keep if they are online students, things which in the real physical world they are not allowed to keep. That is all it refers to.
It is the same for digital locks. A lot of the concerns about digital locks would not be a concern if they were locking actual material or actual merchandise. It is similar to saying, “Well, he didn't actually rob me, but he did break into my store”. That is what digital locks refers to. We think that it makes sense. Most Canadians understand the necessity to protect private property, including intellectual property.
In today's world, technology is evolving at breakneck speed. Bill C-11 does not just take aim at current issues or issues that are 15 years old. It is forward looking and responsive. It would help ensure that Canadians' copyright laws are flexible enough to evolve as technology evolves.
Everyone knows that our copyright law has not been updated for 15 years. It is woefully out of date. Moving forward, we are committed to ensuring that the Copyright Act remains responsive to the reality of today and the days to come. That is why the bill includes an automatic review process every five years to ensure the Copyright Act remains responsive to the changing digital environment.
There is a desire to get the copyright law right, but we know that as the years go by, the demands will change, as will the necessities, and therefore, a review of the process is built in.
After all that we have heard, after all the discussions we have had, it is time to move forward with copyright modernization.
Bill C-11 would balance the interests of all Canadians who are touched by Canada's copyright law. With that balance in mind, Bill C-11 would offer a range of benefits to all Canadians, including new rights for Canadian creators and greater protections for the incentive to create. It would include changes that would legitimize the everyday activities for ordinary Canadians. A lot of the concerns about the limits on digital copying, et cetera, would actually allow for more than the current law allows for.
Furthermore, the benefits would include clear copyright rules to encourage innovation and the sharing of ideas online.
Last but not least, there are more options for educators, not fewer.
Clearly, this is good news for all Canadians, artists, businesspeople, teachers, students and families. Canadians deserve a copyright regime that would allow them to fully participate with confidence in the digital world. With Bill C-11 our government would deliver these benefits.
I invite hon. members of the House to join our government to support the bill, which would effectively modernize Canada's copyright law and protect the interests of all Canadians.