House of Commons Hansard #144 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Copyright Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Copyright Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The question is on Motion No. 4. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Copyright Act
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Copyright Act
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Some hon. members

No.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Copyright Act
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Some hon. members

Yea.

Copyright Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Copyright Act
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Some hon. members

Nay.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Copyright Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

We will now proceed to the motions in Group No. 4.

Copyright Act
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Restigouche—Chaleur
New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved:

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-32, in Clause 15, be amended by replacing

a) line 29 on page 27 with the following:

"27.1 (1) Subject to any regulations made under subsection (6), it is an"

b) line 1 on page 28 with the following:

"(2) Subject to any regulations made under subsection (6), where the"

Motion No. 60

That Bill C-32, in Clause 62, be amended by adding after line 18 on page 96 the following:

"(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1)( d ), paragraph 45(1)( e ) of the Copyright Act, as enacted by section 28 of this Act, shall be read as follows for the period beginning on June 30, 1996 and ending on the day that is sixty days after the day on which this Act is assented to: e ) to import copies, made with the consent of the owner of the copyright in the country where they were made, of any used books.''

Copyright Act
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Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

moved:

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-32, in Clause 28, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 26 on page 62 with the following:

"where they were made, of any used books."

Copyright Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur
New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I would like to be on the record on these motions. There are in this grouping three motions, Motions Nos. 6, 44 and 60.

Motion No. 60 is a government motion. Motions Nos. 6 and 60 are both technical amendments. Motion No. 6, is a consequential amendment. It makes a correction to a subsection added to the bill by the committee.

Motion No. 44 by the member for Kootenay East in the name of the member for Edmonton-Strathcona is about used books. It claims that used books could not be imported and things of that nature. I would like to correct that perception.

The bill does not prohibit the importation of used textbooks. Rather, it provides a safeguard should the importation of certain used textbooks become a problem. The amendment made by the standing committee ensures that Canada can continue to maintain control over its own marketplace. It is a very solid safeguard and the concerns of members should be looked after with regard to that amendment.

Motion No. 60 in the name of the government is a consequential amendment, one that all parties will probably accept as well as the other one. It ensures that an amendment made by the committee will not be retroactive to June 30, 1996. I know many members have spoken against retroactivity in the past including members of the Reform Party, Bloc Quebecois and the independent members present. I suggest to them again that it would be wise to support this amendment.

With regard to Motion No. 44, the government will be indicating its decision but personally it is a no vote. We are not in favour of Motion No. 44 because the bill itself guarantees protection and there is a safeguard in there to make sure that our marketplace is not distorted when it comes to used books.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-32, specifically to Group No. 4 amendments.

At the outset I wish I could share the confidence of the hon. parliamentary secretary that the clause I am going to speak on is not going to be a problem for students. I do not see that when I read the bill. I take exception to his confidence that it is not going to be a problem.

Motion No. 44 effectively deletes the second part of clause 45(e) which deals with import copies made with the consent of the owner and the copyright in the country where they were made of any used books. Then it goes on to say except textbooks of a scientific, technical or scholarly nature for use within an educational institution in a course of instruction. That is the clause which is the problem.

Clause 45 in the bill addresses the issue of exclusive distributors in Canada. If a copyright owner has selected a Canadian publisher to distribute his or her work in Canada, that publisher is an exclusive distributor. Clause 45(e) provides an exception to this and makes it lawful for individuals to import used books. That would be fine if this government had left it at that. Instead, the government has created an exception to the exception. It has specifically made it unlawful for individuals to import textbooks of a scientific, technical or scholarly nature for use within an educational institution such as colleges and universities.

What does this mean? The Liberal government has given into the pressures of the Canadian publishing industry at the expense of those who can at least afford it, the students. It is interesting to note that this amendment was pushed through at the last minute in

response to pressure from Canadian publishers. It is also interesting note that when the Canadian Booksellers Association appeared before the parliamentary committee considering Bill C-32 in October 1996 absolutely no mention was made of used textbooks. Instead, this amendment was added at a late date without any meaningful opportunity for interested parties such as booksellers and student associations to have input. That was shameful.

Time and again this government has said that it is committed to young Canadians. This government has tried to make us believe that it is investing in the futures of young Canadians. For many young Canadians the future starts with university or college. Books are one essential part of higher education. As a parent whose daughter is currently in university I am only too familiar with the costs involved, tuition, books, living expenses. They all add up quickly. In a northern riding such as mine, Prince George-Peace River, the expenses can be much more if a student is forced to relocate in order to pursue a higher education.

Luckily my daughter has parental support, but many students do not. One way they can defray the high costs associated with university or college is to buy used textbooks. Because there are few Canadian suppliers of used textbooks, bookstores and students rely on a supply of used textbooks imported from the U.S.A.

The average price of a brand new text book is about $75, and even that seems low. I am well aware that many students face costs of hundreds of dollars for textbooks. It is estimated that the cost to students of purchasing new rather than used textbooks will be $5 million annually if this amendment is passed. This will only worsen the student debt problems that we are currently facing. On an individual level the effect of this amendment will be to increase the total amount a student spends on textbooks over the course of his or her degree by as much as $1,600. This is a huge blow to students and their parents.

Sixteen hundred dollars would pay for a whole semester of college or university. Sixteen hundred dollars could help students from more remote areas who have been forced to relocate to travel home for Christmas or for summer jobs. Not only do students buy used textbooks to save money, they sell them back to campus bookstores in order to recoup some of their money.

These textbooks are exported to distributors outside Canada. Canada currently exports more used textbooks than it imports so there is a balance of trade there. By restricting the importation of used textbooks this government is affecting this export trade. We can expect that if the import of used books stops, so will the export. Demand for used texts will fall and students will no longer be able to sell their books back to campus bookstores. This will result in an estimated loss to students of $2 million in revenue each and every year from the sale of used textbooks.

Canadian universities and colleges are increasingly relying on revenues from the sales of used books. Campus bookstores benefit twice from the sale of used textbooks. They get a commission on the purchase of used textbooks by the students and they get a margin on the later sale of reused textbooks to other students.

It has been estimated that lost revenues for Canadian academic institutions and their bookstores as a result of this Liberal amendment would be almost $600,000 each year. As we all know, decreased revenues are always passed on to the consumer in the form of reduced service and higher costs. In this case I reiterate that the consumers we are talking about are students.

Who will this amendment really help? The Canadian publishing industry seems to think it will protect them. However, despite what we have been led to believe Canada is not being overrun by foreign used textbooks. In 1995-96, 29 per cent of the used textbooks that were exported from and reimported into Canada were Canadian material. Canada is in effect recycling its own used textbooks.

The effect of this amendment will be to force students to buy brand new textbooks, most of which are published by American companies. Therefore the protection of Canadian interests argument does not hold water. I submit that the true effect of this amendment is to protect the profits of foreign owned new textbook publishers.

Another effect of this legislation will be to encourage Canadian students to photocopy their friend's textbooks rather than spend money on new ones. Students who resent being forced to purchase new textbooks or who simply cannot afford them will no doubt pick the cheaper option and head to the photocopier. Who could blame them?

Surely this is a step backward for copyright protection. Not only does this raise concerns from the student perspective, it also raises concerns under NAFTA. The amendment would interfere with trade based solely on geography rather than content or intellectual property rights, thereby offending the national treatment provisions of NAFTA.

Clearly this amendment, which restricts the import of used textbooks into Canada, does little for anyone other than foreign new textbook publishers. All it does is unfairly penalize Canadian students, colleges and universities while at the same time failing to have any positive effects on the Canadian economy.

That is why I strongly urge this House to adopt the amendment proposed by my hon. colleague to delete this senseless restriction on used textbook importation.

Copyright Act
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1:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Madam Speaker, it is good to speak to this amendment today. It is an important one. I do not know if it slipped in without being noticed by the government but for some reason the government has seen fit to leave it in here.

It is concerned about one of those rising free trade issues of all times, the case where used textbooks could slip across the border in incredible numbers, flooding the market with cheap textbooks. It happens all the time that thousands of businesses go broke. Every day I get phone calls about this.

The reason it is a concern is that this specifically mentions university textbooks of a scientific, technological or scholarly nature. This provision is in there in case used textbooks become a problem. Again, I can hardly imagine that happening. Even if it were to become a so-called problem, what a delightful problem it would be.

I was in university for a while. The reasons I left will be left not discussed today. I was in university for some time. What does a person do when they get into university? The first thing they do is get courses assigned and textbooks.

People get their textbooks. They rush down because there is always a certain number of used textbooks available. They are available for first come, first serve. They are half price. If a person charges in there, they can get a scientific novel, a dissertation that is already highlighted and ready to go at half price.

When talking about a $1,600 bill for textbooks, what a plum to know there are plenty of textbooks, hopefully a plethora of textbooks, a cacophony, lots of textbooks all available at half price.

The member from Peace River asked what the number one priority is of a student. There is no doubt what the number one priority is. It is scholarly activity.

Jana is one of the many pages who serve us in the House of Commons. They do a wonderful job. I asked this young lady what her priorities are, what is catching her attention these days. They are getting near the end of term. They are here on a scholarly enterprise. They are here to learn and they also learn in university.

"I live to work at my scholarly activities". I said: "You look a little tired this morning. Is it possible that you have been working too hard?" She said yes, she had been working too hard. She had been up to three o'clock in the morning studying some obscure topic that probably most of us would not even understand.

I am sure that with the use of a textbook and friends of both sexes they worked together to get to the studies at hand, using every asset at her disposal and pouring herself into her work. I was impressed. I am sure that at about one or two o'clock this morning she was thinking to herself "where are those used textbooks?" It was weighing heavily on her heart. I am sure she was thinking "if they cut off the supply of used textbooks, what shall I do, I will have no opportunity to further my education". She could be relegated to spending evenings in fruitless activities or who knows what.

I think of Jana when I think of this clause. I think what a sad thing it would be if this clause were to pass unamended. It would make it impossible for her to use any of these used books.

I jest somewhat of course. However, the intent of my remarks is sound. People going to university have a limited income, limited access to books. Almost all of them are striving to make ends meet and it is a tough job. These pages here are just like everyone else. They are trying to make ends meet as well.

Why would we want to restrict the access of used books to these people and others, that it could suddenly become a problem? I do not think people who are attending university need to be concerned about limited access. I say if used books can be found by the bus load, bring them in and sell them at half price, let the students benefit. After all, many scholarly books are only scholarly for that short university period. Let us recycle them, use them up and give the students a break.