Evidence of meeting #7 for Bill C-11 (41st Parliament, 1st Session) in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was copyright.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Alain Lauzon  General Manager, Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada
  • Martin Lavallée  Director, Licensing and Legal Affairs, Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada
  • Elliot Noss  President and Chief Executive Officer, Tucows Inc.
  • Jean Brazeau  Senior Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Shaw Communications Inc.
  • Jay Kerr-Wilson  Legal Counsel, Fasken Martineau, Shaw Communications Inc.
  • Cynthia Rathwell  Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Shaw Communications Inc.
  • Stephen Stohn  President, Executive Producer, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Epitome Pictures Inc.
  • Gerry Barr  National Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Directors Guild of Canada
  • Tim Southam  Chair, National Directors Division, Directors Guild of Canada
  • Greg Hollingshead  Chair, Writers' Union of Canada
  • Marian Hebb  Legal Counsel, Writers' Union of Canada

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

I would—

4:50 p.m.

General Manager, Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada

Alain Lauzon

We don't see that. What we see is that we have rights that are in the law. We have them in the law, but they are not getting paid. Broadcast mechanical and private copying are not extended to DAR, to reproduction.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

I want to transition, if I could, to the broadcast mechanical.

If you add the $21 million for the reproduction right that you talk about and the money from the performance right that radio stations pay, is it fair to say that more money is paid today than was paid 10 years ago?

4:50 p.m.

General Manager, Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada

Alain Lauzon

Obviously. The—

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Is it fair to say that if you take away the $21 million for the reproduction right, substantially more money is paid today just for the performance right alone than was paid 10 years ago?

4:50 p.m.

General Manager, Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada

Alain Lauzon

I'm not in the business of the performing right, but as legislators, you decided in 1997 to bring in other rights, which were the rights to the performing artist and the record companies, or what we call neighbouring rights. Up to a certain point it was in the law. It has an effect; for sure, that will increase.

The second thing—

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

There have been many, though, that—

4:50 p.m.

General Manager, Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada

Alain Lauzon

The second thing is SOCAN. They had an increase in the rate in the last five or six years. They have had that rate for the last 20 years, and the reproduction right at SODRAC is obviously another right.

We're having this discussion in Canada, but all around the world and in Europe, there is no discussion about that. They are paying the neighbouring rights, they are paying the reproduction rights, and they are paying the performing rights. They are all paying that. It's only here that we're having this discussion.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Do I have time?

4:50 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Thank you, Mr. Lauzon and Mr. Lake. Unfortunately, we're well over the five minutes.

That will conclude our second round of questioning.

With that, I'd like to thank our witnesses for coming today. Your perspective and thoughtful input to this committee are much appreciated.

To the committee members, we will now break for four and a half minutes. We will start at five o'clock on the dot to ensure we can get through the entire second round in the next session.

With that, we will suspend.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Ladies and gentlemen, members, and witnesses, welcome to the second half of the seventh meeting of the Legislative Committee on Bill C-11.

I'd like to welcome all of our witnesses: from Epitome Pictures Inc., Mr. Stephen Stohn; from the Directors Guild of Canada, Mr. Gerry Barr and Mr. Tim Southam; and from the Writers' Union of Canada, Mr. Greg Hollingshead and Ms. Marian Hebb. Welcome, everyone.

I know you've briefed by the clerk that each organization will have 10 minutes to present, so we will give you that 10 minutes.

We will start with you, Mr. Stohn.

4:55 p.m.

Stephen Stohn President, Executive Producer, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Epitome Pictures Inc.

Thank you very much.

Epitome Pictures Inc. is a small business. We're a mom-and-pop shop: I'm the president, and my wife is the CEO. She's more important than I am, as it should be.

We have been in business for nearly a third of a century. We're a television production company. The one that you would know the most is the Degrassi series that we produce.

I'm also the chair of Orange Lounge Recordings, which is a record company that does the things that a record company does on the Internet, including using all the facilities available—the Topspins and the iTunes and every conceivable form of exploitation of digital rights.

We also do an innovative co-venture with Sympatico in which we produce video concerts of artists who come into Toronto. We bring them into the studio and do live sessions with them, which are then broadcast on the Internet. They're called Live at the Orange Lounge. Dozens of Canadian acts have done this. Some are well known, like Nelly Furtado and Avril Lavigne, while others are not as well known. There are many famous international acts, and I include Katy Perry, Amy Winehouse, the Pussycat Dolls, and OneRepublic. That's just to say I'm immersed in the digital world.

Coming back to the television production side, our Liberty Street series, which started in 1995, was the first series in the world to launch simultaneously on air and with a website. Our Riverdale series, which we started in 1997 and which starred some very famous and talented Canadians—including, most notably, Tyrone Benskin—was the first series in the world to launch a companion web video series. It was a weekly series and, in effect, a behind-the-scenes soap opera. The new version of Degrassi, starting in 2001, launched a groundbreaking website, at a cost of more than $1.5 million, to enroll fans in the Degrassi school and engage them in interactions with our fictional characters. In effect, it was a proprietary Myspace long before Myspace was ever invented.

Degrassi was the first series in the world to produce video webisodes presenting ongoing stories that featured our main sets, main cast, and main writers, and being shot with our main crew. Degrassi was also the first series to make full episodes legally available in Canada both for download and streaming. We've experimented with various alternatives since then, including making episodes available on the Internet prior to broadcast. Then we tried a week prior. We tried 24 hours prior; we tried 24 hours after; now we simply go simultaneous on iTunes and on the web. An entire season of Degrassi, which is now 45 episodes, is available in Canada on the MuchMusic website for free. There's advertising, but an entire season is available for the fans.

If you search “Degrassi” on Google, you'll get over 11 million hits. We have over three million “likes” fans on Facebook. Interestingly, if you search “Degrassi mashup” on Google, you'll get more than a million hits.

The list goes on. We have very active Twitter accounts where our writers provide Twitter feeds for our characters. We do vlogs and blogs. We have a Degrassi game already in the iTunes App Store. We have another co-viewing app coming out this summer. We're doing everything digital we can think of.

I'll note that our new series, The L.A. Complex, which launches next month in the United States, will launch simultaneously on The CW, which is an over-the-air network, and on iTunes, Amazon, all the download services, and also on Hulu, which is a Netflix type of service.

I mention all of this not to pat ourselves on the back, but rather to make it clear that while we are grateful for the legacy modes of distribution—we love our television broadcasters, and they are a linchpin—that is not where we are fixated at all. We are and intend to always be on the absolute forefront of the new media. I am not a university professor who has well-intentioned but perhaps ultimately misguided theories about what might or might not work on the Internet; I am part of a passionate, active, and engaged team that is immersed day in and day out in the practicalities of the digital world.

I have two key take-away messages that I would like to put to you today.

First, we producers are devastated by the torrents and the cyberlockers who take the shows that take us so much time and effort to produce, make money from them, and return nothing to us. More and more every day we rely on return of our investment from digital rights—from legal, authorized streaming from broadcaster websites, from Netflix- or Hulu-type services, from legal, authorized downloads from iTunes or Amazon-type services, and from dozens of other legally authorized digital services that make Degrassi available today; therefore, the first key take-away from us is to please pass Bill C-11 as a matter of extreme urgency.

The second key message is also a plea: please make all the technical changes necessary for the intent of Bill C-11 to actually be carried into effect.

I am not here today to discuss commas here and reasonables there. I leave that to the experts, such as my brilliant friend Barry Sookman, and to our CMPA producers' organization, and to others such as Music Canada and the Motion Picture Association - Canada. It is my understanding that if implemented today as currently drafted, Bill C-11 would have the perverse effect of inadvertently sheltering the very websites, services, and illicit activities that the government was intending to eliminate, so please give us absolute clarity that the BitTorrent sites like isoHunt and the cyberlockers like Megavideo will be put out of business in Canada.

Finally, I'd like to discuss mashups. We love mashups. As noted before, there are myriad Degrassi mashups available throughout the web; to us, they are a confirmation of our fans' loyalty and engagement, and that is something we embrace and applaud vigorously.

What we don't love is drafting in Bill C-11 that we are told may permit all, or substantially all, of an episode to be downloaded or streamed under a wraparound loophole in the mashup language. We also don't love anyone making money from these mashups, including through placing advertising around or adjacent to the mashups, without our being mandated to share in that revenue. We need revenues from our digital endeavours to continue producing our shows. We can't compete with material that is free and we don't want others making money from our hard work and investment without being allowed to share in the return.

In summary, our plea is to pass Bill C-11 urgently, but to please include the technical amendments necessary to clearly eliminate torrents and cyberlockers and to ensure that the mashup exception truly applies only to what the government and all of us really mean by a mashup, not to wraparounds and other loopholes.

Thank you very much for your invitation to make these comments.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Thank you, Mr. Stohn.

Now we will go to the Directors Guild of Canada for 10 minutes.

March 5th, 2012 / 5:05 p.m.

Gerry Barr National Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Directors Guild of Canada

Thank you.

Members of the committee, my name is Gerry Barr. I'm the national executive director and CEO of the Directors Guild of Canada. With me today is Tim Southam, a director of both television and feature film on both sides of the border and chair of the Directors Guild national directors division. To anchor him for you, for those of you who watch House, his most recent work was in evidence in last week's episode, so if you're a fan of that show and want any backstory, he's the guy to go to.

This is, of course, a series that has more than 50 million viewers around the world, and it's a classic example of what the Canadian audiovisual industry can do in terms of both level of quality and dramatic series.

DGC is a member of Mr. Stohn's “day in, day out” crowd. As a national membership-based labour organization, it represents over 3,400 key creative and logistical personnel in the film and television and digital media industry, and we're pleased that after more than a decade and numerous attempts, copyright legislation in Canada will be updated with the passage of this bill.

Bill C-11 brings our copyright regime into compliance with WIPO treaties. It takes steps to protect creators from content theft, it rightly classes parody and satire as new categories for fair dealing, and it attempts to modernize Canadian copyright laws for a new digital age. All of this is very welcome.

The preamble to the bill sets out the importance of “clear, predictable and fair rules” to support creativity and innovation as well as the importance of legislation that “provides rights holders with recognition, remuneration and the ability to assert their rights”.

Naturally, we strongly support those principles, but we're here to say that Bill C-11 still needs some help to live up to those important goals.

As an organization with members who both create and use copyrighted works, we know that copyright reform is a balancing act, and we're here today to ask for technical change to ensure that Bill C-11 contains the clear rules that are called for in that preamble.

Clarity is at the heart of effective copyright legislation. Creators and copyright holders need to know where they stand and what limitations are in place to benefit users' access to the works they create. The absence of clarity leads inevitably to having courts decide these matters. Costly time-consuming litigation benefits no one—not creators, not users, not others in the production chain—and should never be seen as preferable to clear and predictable legislative rules.

Technical amendments can protect rights holders' revenues and their ability to control how and where their work is disseminated, as well as protect users from unintentionally infringing on those rights. To that end, the DGC is one of 68 arts groups supporting the package of amendments submitted to this committee by the Canadian Conference of the Arts.

I'd like to turn to Mr. Southam for a few words.

5:10 p.m.

Tim Southam Chair, National Directors Division, Directors Guild of Canada

Thanks, Gerry.

If anyone is looking for House, it's House M.D. and it was last Monday. The series continues until its season—and, in fact, series—finale sometime in April. It is not a homegrown series, but we do have Flashpoint and Rookie Blue and, of course, Degrassi, which is the great pioneer in Canadian-made homegrown TV series that have completely won over the world in the last decade and a half.

Today we'd like to discuss an issue that is not covered by the CCA submission, yet is of huge importance to the DGC. This committee review creates the opportunity to provide clarity with respect to issues of authorship of audiovisual works. For most works in which copyright subsists under the act, the author is self-evident. For example, the writer of a novel, the sculptor of a sculpture, the painter of a painting, or the composer of a musical score is, in each case, clearly the author of that work.

We haven't the same clarity with audiovisual works. The rights of the works' creators are not acknowledged under the Copyright Act with the same clarity. It's time that this gap in the act was closed. The DGC believes the technical amendment very narrowly framed to define the authors of an audiovisual work as the work's credited director and writer will do just that.

The director and screenwriter, of course, create the audiovisual work. The writer begins with a blank page, and characters, dialogue, and story elements emerge. The director imparts a three-dimensional vision to the work. Casting, selecting location, staging, editing, sound design, scoring, visual effects, colour correction—all aspects of committing the work to the screen—fall to the director.

Defining the authors of the audiovisual work is key to giving full effect to some of the amendments included in Bill C-11 regarding the recognition of moral rights and the use of digital rights management systems. It's important also to say that statutory recognition of authorship brings codification and clarity to the already existing rights of directors and writers as recognized in legal precedent and industry practice.