Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-11.
To start, I would like to note my support for the bill. I encourage others to support it as well.
The bill is a result of consulting, listening, and listening until we got it right. In fact, this legislation has come to this point through one of the largest consultations in Canadian history. By now, there should be no mistaking the message that we have received. Canada needs to pass legislation to update its Copyright Act and we should do so quickly.
As we have heard during various speeches delivered during the course of the proceedings on Bill C-11 and former Bill C-32, this legislation purposely balances both the rights of creators and the interests of consumers. It does so in a way that allows artists and creators to position themselves as they wish, but principally protects and enhances their ability to succeed as entrepreneurs.
By strengthening the protection of their intellectual property rights, we know that if we give our artists and creators, digital or otherwise, the proper legal and economic framework in which to produce work, a large number of them will succeed, prosper and grow.
Canada is home to a great number of global success stories in the visual and performing arts, as well as artists and creators who use new media to tell their stories and create their work.
Every year, new artistic innovators emerge and build upon the successes of those before them. It is important that the laws which oversee the protection of their work are up to date and flexible, so that as art forms evolve and change, the law still applies in a way that makes sense, common sense.
On the other hand, without solid intellectual property protection, the kind of artistic activity that we celebrate every year at events like the Junos is discouraged, and success is more difficult to achieve.
For instance, we should look at Canada's very successful video game sector. We all know that Canada is home to world leaders like EA Sports, a great company that makes games like Madden football and NHL, but there are a host of other companies that thrive here in Canada as well.
For example, when the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry visited BitHeads here in Ottawa, the owner of that company told the Toronto Star afterwards that he loses 90% of his company's revenues to piracy activities. That is why he supports this new legislation. We need to ensure that this kind of piracy stops.
I can also speak about the positive effect the bill would have on photography in Canada. The bill ensures that photographers are the first owners of copyright on their photographs, and that copyright will be protected for 50 years after the photographer's death. Taken together, what the bill aims to do is protect the incentive to create.
Provisions in the bill strengthen the ability of copyright owners to control the uses of their online work, therefore preventing piracy and infringement and promoting new and legitimate online business models.
For example, there are provisions creating a new category of civil liability which directly targets the enablers of online piracy. In the same light, the bill ensures the protection of technological protection measures, such as digital locks, to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted material.
Artists and rights holders will not only benefit from these protections against circumvention, but they will also benefit from the creation of rules that prevent the manufacture, importation and sale of devices that can break digital locks.
The opposition has been critical of digital locks. The important point here is that digital locks are a tool in the box for creators who wish to protect their hard work. Rights holders are free to market their work with or without a digital lock. Fundamentally, they will respond to the market in which they are active in the way that best suits their interests and values. That is how it should be in a free market.
It is because of the measures I have just mentioned and more that I am happy to see the bill move forward, beyond the delay tactics we saw at second reading and through a productive committee session in the winter, to this stage today. In many respects this debate has given parliamentarians a strong appreciation for the economic contribution of artists and creators to the Canadian economy as people who innovate, create jobs and strengthen their communities as well as the economy.
We are also more aware of the opportunities that exist for Canadian artists in our new digital economy. Because of this appreciation and the promise created by these opportunities, what we are saying to artists across the country is that we understand this piece of legislation is important for their ability to profit fully from their work.
We will bring the full force of the law against organized commercial piracy to protect the efforts of Canada's creative community. The commitment met with stakeholders' support again and again.
The Entertainment Software Association of Canada said that the government is delivering on a promise to modernize outdated law and support new and innovative business models. It considers that this legislation would provide a framework to allow creators and companies to distribute their works in the manner that best suits them. This is the association that supports video games and other entertainment software creators. It is saying clearly that this law should be passed now.
The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network is just as clear. It said that it strongly supports the principles behind this legislation, and that piracy is a massive problem in Canada, which has an economic impact on government retailers and consumers. It said, “We are pleased the government is committed to getting tough on IP crimes.”
The Canadian Publisher's Council said that “...we all benefit from strong and precise copyright legislation that provides incentives to protect rights holders” in this highly competitive economy.
It is clear that we have support to move ahead and that we are delivering with this legislation. With the kind of protection those stakeholders are seeking, it is clear that artists do not need things like an iPod tax, which the opposition supports again and again, and does so regardless of the market consequences and what it would mean for the ability of our creators to market their products in new and innovative ways.
The opposition should take a more positive and confident view of artists and creators. In essence, it should see them as the innovative entrepreneurs that they are and support copyright modernization in Canada as a way of enhancing their ability to succeed.
This is our third attempt at introducing copyright legislation. Thanks to the efforts of our government, as well as those who took part in the Bill C-11 committee, we will finally bring Canada's copyright laws in line with international standards. This legislation would strengthen our ability to compete in the global, digital economy. It would protect and create jobs, promote innovation and attract new investment to Canada. Moreover, this legislation would encourage new ideas and protect the rights of Canadians whose research, development and artistic creativity strengthen our economy each and every day.
For these reasons I am pleased to support the bill. I encourage all members of this great place to vote in favour of it.