Madam Speaker, it is a privilege and honour to speak to Bill C-11, the copyright modernization bill. This bill was designed to address the interests of Canadians, from those who create content to the consumers who benefit from it.
I am also glad to see how the efforts of parliamentarians on all sides have moved the bill forward and have earned the support of Canada's creative community. Parliamentarians heard from many who contributed to the committee process through testimony and submissions. We heard a clear message that copyright laws play a critical role in protecting and creating jobs in Canada's digital economy.
We all know that a strong copyright regime is critical for the growth of our digital economy and our information and communications technology sector. Combined with other legislative initiatives, as well as innovative measures by the private sector, this bill will contribute to a well-functioning digital economy by instilling trust and confidence in consumers and creators. I cannot reinforce enough the fact that we need to instill trust and confidence in consumers and creators.
One of the key pieces to a strong digital economy is the safeguarding of intellectual property. This legislation will provide these safeguards.
A myriad of witnesses testified over the last couple of years through a few iterations of this legislation. I am glad to say that the following associations have shown support for aspects of the current bill: the Canadian Council of Chief Executives; the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; the Canadian Photographers Coalition; the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network; the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations; the Entertainment Software Association of Canada; the Canadian Independent Music Association; Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec; and many more.
I would like to take some time now to discuss other important aspects of this bill.
The bill introduces a new remedy for copyright owners against those who knowingly enable infringement of copyright. This new remedy supplements existing criminal powers to deal with pirate sites by adding stronger tools for copyright owners and makes liability for enabling of infringement clear. I think it is important to bring clarity to this matter and that is what the legislation sets out to do.
We are making sure to protect copyright holders in order to give them the ability to defend themselves. Canada's creative industries will also benefit from an amendment made at the committee stage that clarifies statutory damages for copyright infringement. Copyright owners will finally have stronger legal tools to pursue online pirate sites that facilitate copyright infringement. The amendment will facilitate targeting those who participate in wide-scale violation of the rights of creators.
Another amendment will also eliminate the safe harbour for those who infringe author's rights. Canadian creators, performers and artists will benefit from the rights and protections that are part of the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, Internet treaties, including the exclusive right to control how their copyrighted material is made available on the Internet.
Consumers will benefit from this bill as well. It legitimizes activities that Canadians do every day, such as downloading music and certain kinds of format shifting, such as when people use PVRs to record shows and watch them later. Canadians will finally be able to record television, radio and Internet programming in order to enjoy it at a later time with no restrictions as to the device or media they wish to use. Once again, the legislation is providing clarity and certainty.
The big issue is that this legislation speaks to the balance we have achieved. It is fair and it is balanced. Canadian consumers will also be able to copy legitimately acquired music, film or other works onto any device or medium, such as MP3 players, for their private use. They will also be able to make backup copies of these works.
Those are just a few examples of the common-sense changes within this bill. That is one reason I am so supportive of this legislation. Those examples show why this bill is so important.
Right away we can see that the bill is technologically neutral. We were told time and time again by stakeholders across the spectrum that we need legislation that is not rendered obsolete by new advancements in technology, as the current act is. There have been three different attempts over the last 15 years, since 1997, to bring the legislation into the 21st century. This is what we are about to do with this legislation moving forward. The fact is technology is advancing all the time. It will be something that we will be addressing as we move forward as well.
Canadians with perceptual disabilities will be permitted to adapt legally acquired material to a format they can easily use. We have heard time and time again about the difficulty perceptually impaired Canadians have accessing works in Braille or in a format they can enjoy more fully. I am proud that we have taken the step in this legislation to allow for some conversion.
Our government also understands the difference between a large-scale violator and an ordinary consumer. The legislation introduces the concept of proportionality in statutory damages. It revises current provisions for statutory damages to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial infringement. That is very important. This bill reduces an individual's potential liability in cases of non-commercial infringement to a one-time payment of between $100 and $5,000 for all infringements that took place prior to any lawsuit being launched.
It is through these types of measures that we will finally provide real protection for the intellectual property created by Canada's creative industries. It is through these and other steps we can see the meticulous balance that has emerged.
Even better, the bill also includes a statutory five-year review. As I mentioned, technology is advancing all the time, and it is important that we continue to review this legislation and have a proviso in the legislation so if that balance is upset at any time, or if an unforeseen consequence of the legislation occurs, changes can be made to improve the act in the future. We know that perfection in copyright legislation is elusive, so having the opportunity to make changes just makes sense.
In closing, I want to take some time to connect this bill to other steps our government has taken to promote and create innovation in our economy. I represent the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country, an innovative, technologically sound and vibrant community. We are encouraging the private sector to create and adopt new digital technologies. We are developing tomorrow's digital workforce. For example, in budget 2012, acting on the Jenkins report, we announced $1.1 billion to directly support research and development; $500 million for venture capital, something we have heard a lot about the need for; $37 million annually for Canada's granting councils; $10 million for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; $500 million for the Canada Foundation for Innovation; and much more. Members can see this funding helps to provide the basis of a strong, connected digital economy.
I would encourage the opposition to join us in putting Canada's economy and Canadian jobs first. This bill is on the right track to do just that. It is time to get it passed.