Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this bill. I am pleased that our government is getting closer to delivering on its commitment to modernize the Copyright Act.
I would like to invite all of my colleagues to join me in ensuring the swift passage of Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act. By supporting the legislation, we will be delivering on our government's commitment to modernize the Copyright Act in a way that balances the needs of creators and users.
The road that has led us to where we are today has been a lengthy one. Once we pass the legislation, this will be the first time in more than 15 years that we have completed a comprehensive overhaul of the Copyright Act. During this time, we have heard from thousands of Canadians and have had ample time to debate copyright modernization.
As my colleagues may recall, the copyright modernization act was first introduced following the largest consultations of their kind in Canadian history. In the summer of 2009, we set out to hear the views and opinions of Canadians from across the country. We leveraged new technologies to provide as many people as possible with access to this important process. We hosted interactive and web-based discussions. We held live events from coast to coast in Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Gatineau, Peterborough, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Finally, we also accepted written submissions.
The response we received was impressive. Around 1,000 Canadians participated in the live events. More than 8,000 submissions were made, the website received 30,000 unique visits. We had more than 2,500 online forum posts and hundreds of followers on Twitter.
Based on this response, it was clear that Canadians from all walks of life understood the importance of modern copyright legislation, and this is still the case. During those consultations, Canadians told us about how copyright impacted their daily lives. Canadians told us about the importance of copyright to the digital economy and its effect on Canada's global competitiveness. Furthermore, Canadian creators and users told us that they needed clear, fair and predictable rules.
Our government listened to all of this and we responded with the introduction of the copyright modernization act in 2010 and its reintroduction last fall. We have responded with legislation that takes a common sense, balanced approach to copyright modernization. This approach considers the needs of both creators and users of copyright material. We have responded with legislation that reflects a uniquely Canadian approach to copyright modernization, an approach that takes into account the perspectives that Canadians have shared with us as creators, consumers and citizens during our consultations.
I would like to highlight four specific things we heard during the consultations and highlight how our government responded.
The first thing we heard was that Canadians thought that technological neutrality was an important guiding principle for copyright modernization. They emphasized that Canada's copyright regime must be able to accommodate technology that did not yet exist. They told us that any copyright reform must reflect the reality of an ever-evolving media and technological landscape. We responded. The copyright modernization act includes a number of exceptions that are technologically neutral. They reflect the reality of an ever-evolving media and technological landscape. They will stand the test of time.
The second thing we heard was that Canadians wanted to make reasonable use of content that they had legally acquired. We responded. The copyright modernization act includes a number of exceptions that facilitate commonplace private uses of copyright materials.
The third thing we heard was that Canadians did not think it was fair that one could risk facing huge penalties for minor copyright infringement. We responded to this, too. The copyright modernization act would create two categories of infringement to which statutory damages could apply. The first category is commercial and the second category is non-commercial. For non-commercial infringement, the existing statutory damages in the Copyright Act will be significantly reduced. The copyright modernization act also introduces proportionality as a factor for the courts to consider when awarding damages.
The fourth thing we heard was that Canadian copyright owners wanted new rights and protections to sustain business models in a digital environment. We responded to this as well. The copyright modernization act would implement the rights and protections of the Internet treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization. These include a making available right, a distribution right, moral rights for performers and protections for digital locks and digital watermarks.
These four things are just examples of what we heard during the 2009 consultations. There are numerous other things we heard and we responded to. Perhaps the easiest way to sum it all up is to say that the 2009 consultation demonstrated to us the importance of a balanced approach to copyright modernization, an approach that balances the interests of all Canadians, creators and users alike. This is the approach we will be delivering to Canadians by passing Bill C-11.
Large scale national consultations have been held, legislation has twice been introduced and debated, witnesses have testified and submissions have been received. Committees have studied the bill at length and a number of technical amendments have been made to improve the clarity of certain provisions.
The bill is back before us. We need to pass the legislation and deliver results to Canadians. The fact is that after 15 years, it is time to turn the page on this chapter of copyright modernization.
Our government recognizes that new challenges may emerge in the future for the Copyright Act. That is why we have included in the bill a mandatory review of the legislation every five years. This five year review will ensure that Canada's copyright regime does not fall back into the outdated state it is today. However, before we can think about all this, we need to first modernize the Copyright Act by passing the bill.
Canadians from all walks of life have an interest in modern copyright laws. The benefits of copyright modernization are many. However, Canadians will not enjoy them until we have passed the bill.
I urge all members to join me in supporting the swift passage of the copyright modernization act.