Mr. Speaker, we live in a global, digital world . And yet, Canada's copyright regime has not been updated since the late 1990s, before the dot-com era and before tablet computers and mobile devices gave us access to thousands of songs, moves and apps at the touch of a button or the swipe of a finger.
Modernizing Canada's copyright laws is an important part of the government's strategy for the digital economy. Each year that Canada goes without modern copyright laws, the need for such modernization becomes more evident.
The explosive popularity of social media and new digital technologies—such as tablet computers, mobile devices and digital book readers—has changed the way Canadians create and use copyrighted material.
This is the third time that we have tried to introduce copyright legislation, and thanks to this government, we will finally update our act so that it is in sync with international standards.
I want to emphasize the fact that, since 1997, the government has tried to modernize the Copyright Act three times, four counting the Liberals' attempt in 2005. Parliament began its study of the Copyright Modernization Act during the last session. Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act, was the latest attempt. The bill died on the order paper at the end of the last Parliament in March 2011.
Bill C-32 was the result of eight weeks of open consultations held across Canada in 2009. Many Canadians and stakeholders had the opportunity to voice their views on copyright. Before the end of the session, the legislative committee heard over 70 witnesses and received over 150 submissions. Several thousand online submissions were received during the online consultations. The bill was drafted in response to one of the farthest-reaching consultations of its kind in Canadian history.
The government acknowledges the extensive review and input already provided on the bill, as introduced in the last Parliament, and thanks all stakeholders and parliamentarians for their contributions. The process has sent one clear message: Canada urgently needs to modernize the Copyright Act.
By reintroducing this bill without changes, the government is reiterating its support for a balanced approach to copyright reform. The bill strikes a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of consumers. The new copyright system will encourage the emergence of new ideas and protect the rights of Canadians whose research and development work and artistic creativity contribute to our dynamic economy.
For creative industries, this bill provides a clear, predictable legal framework that allows them to combat online piracy and roll out new online business models. The film industry has suggested that billions of dollars are lost every year to online piracy, even of films that are not yet available in theatres. Last year, the film industry contributed nearly $5 billion to Canada's economy and provided up to 35,000 full-time jobs.
For high-tech and software companies, this bill provides the certainty they need to develop new products and services that involve legitimate uses of copyrighted material. Canadian software companies have openly said that they prefer to launch new products for consoles because they know that as soon as a PC version is planned, up to 90% of video game sales are lost, sometimes even before the products are legally available on the market. Without the ability to protect their products against theft, thousands of Canadian jobs will be at risk, today and in the future.
For educators and students, this bill opens up greater access to copyright material by recognizing education as a legitimate purpose for fair dealing. New measures will allow more efficient ways to teach, conduct research, and deliver course material and lessons using the latest technologies.
It will also allow teachers to distribute publicly available material from the Internet. For entertainers and commentators, this bill includes parody and satire as purposes to which fair dealing applies.
I would like to clarify what fair dealing is, since there are so many poor interpretations out there. Fair dealing is a long-standing feature of Canadian copyright law that permits certain uses of copyright material in ways that benefit society and do not unduly threaten the interests of the copyright owners. Nevertheless, fair dealing is not a blank cheque.
Currently, fair dealing in Canada is limited to five purposes: research, private study, news reporting, criticism and review. To recognize the important societal benefits of education, parody and satire, the bill is adding these three elements as new purposes to which fair dealing applies, as we said before.
The bill will give Canadian creators and consumers the tools they need to increase Canada’s international competitiveness and will implement the rights and protections of the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties. The bill will allow the creation of user-generated content using copyright materials, such as mash-up videos, for posting on a blog or video-sharing site. This bill legitimizes activities that Canadians do every day.
For instance, the bill recognizes that Canadians should not be liable for recording TV programs for later viewing, copying music from CDs to MP3 players, or backing up data if they are doing so for their private use and have not broken a digital lock. The bill also ensures that digital locks on wireless devices will not prevent Canadians from switching their wireless service providers so long as existing contracts are respected. This will not affect any obligations under an existing contract. Finally, it also provides greater opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain works in an accessible format.
In addition, as a result of the committee's examination, a series of amendments to the bill were proposed in order to address certain concerns.
For instance, it was decided to clarify the fact that the provision regarding those who enable copyright infringement applies to anyone who facilitates piracy, even if that was not the original intention.
We wanted to limit the number of lawsuits against non-profit organizations that export adaptations for people with visual impairments to another country by mistake. This amendment is meant to protect Canadian organizations that might be sued for accidental violations.
The clause concerning those who enable copyright infringement will be amended to address concerns about how sites used purely for the purpose of piracy are protected. This amendment will not affect search engines.
In addition, safe harbour for those who enable copyright infringement will be eliminated. We want to clarify the scope of permitted injunctions against search engines and clarify the time frame for notices of violation by replacing the words “without delay” with “as soon as feasible”. We also have to clarify how service providers and information and education technology store and index information to permit indexing without liability. We also have to clarify that the clause on access to copies for format shifting and time shifting applies only to personal use, including personal use by households.
Lastly, we want to change the wording to ensure that copyright holders can apply under each of the international treaties that Canada is a party to.
This bill also mandates a review of the act every five years to ensure that the legislation is up to date, applicable, and in step with technological change as Canada's economy moves forward. The proposed changes will enhance copyright holders' ability to benefit from their work. Internet service providers, educators, students and entrepreneurs will have the tools to use new technology in innovative ways. Measures like these will ensure that Canadians can prosper.