House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I come to this discussion on the proposed changes to the copyright law from the position of someone who had been in the classroom at one time in his life as a teacher always looking for opportunities to make the learning process relevant to those who were eager to get out of his class. In so doing, I and many of my colleagues used all the resources available to us. That meant going to those who make it their life's work to create new experiences. In the creation of those experiences, they have the right to profit from their genius, creativity and, indeed, the efforts of many who commercialize that creativity.

As a classroom teacher, I availed myself of many with that creativity. It was not always somebody who had the greatest piece of art or the greatest creation of an artifact or even someone who had written the greatest book. Sometimes it went so far, believe it or not, as picking a column out of a newspaper and giving people an opportunity to address all of the issues raised, how they were raised and how they should be addressed. In so doing, we actually photocopied some of these things and distributed them.

Now we are talking about an archaic age in communication. The consumption is still the same. Today we are in a digital age and Bill C-32 is an attempt for Canada to catch up to the digital age, not to enter into it. If one were to speak with young people, such as the pages in the House, they are experts and maybe we should have them stand up here and address these issues. We would learn a lot more from them than we are going to learn from members of Parliament.

We are good at identifying what the problems are, but they will give us the solutions. Why will they give us the solutions? It is because they have grown up and lived with the technology that we say is the new digital age. They are addressing the same problems that I addressed when I was a classroom teacher. High school students were always looking for a way to do something else because it is the nature of the age in that chronological part of our lives to be inquisitive, to look for solutions, to look for ways out, to look for alternatives.

When someone is a creator, the first thing we do is ask what we learn from that. Whether one admits it or not, that is really what one does. Teachers used to do that and maybe some university professors still do that. What we try to do is avail ourselves of the creativity of others. We do that in the classroom. We also do it in the arts industries, primarily music and the graphic arts industries.

Today, the digital age in which we find ourselves has made it much more easy and speedier to avail ourselves of somebody else's creativity. That is good, but in so doing we have been running the risk of eliminating the creator's right to profit from that creativity.

We know that modernizing Canada's copyright law is an absolute necessity. We have to catch up. Changes to the copyright legislation may also have to protect the rights of consumers. If we think for a moment about the example I gave, which is a personal example and I hope everyone will forgive me for it, the cost to educate the next generation of Canadians will be astronomical if every one of the classroom practitioners were to respect the letter of the law that prohibits a photocopy, or in this case, a file share. The cost would be horrendous. It is a question of balancing the commercial cost and commercial benefits.

Bill C-32 appears to meet some of these challenges. One should not always say that an initiative is negative simply because the Conservatives raised it. That would be the safe thing to do, but the bill risks being undermined due to some of the provisions dealing with digital locks and the technological protection measures, which some of my other colleagues have referred to as TPMs.

It seems a contradiction to say that a person could fairly use copyrighted items for certain purposes, but that the manner used to obtain them would be illegal. That is true. We need to clarify what we mean by that, otherwise we will be spinning around in circles over and over again. The moment we put the legislation in place, someone will find a vehicle, an avenue or a way to get out.

If Canadians have legitimately purchased a CD, DVD or other product, they should have the right to use that medium or any other device as long as it is not for commercial gain, because the commercial gain is resident in the person, persons or company that actually created whatever it is that is going to be used or shared.

It would be a waste of taxpayers' money and a betrayal of the public trust if Canadians, and I am now specifically talking about young Canadians, were fined or charged because they wanted to watch a movie they purchased on a DVD. We get into a situation where we are going to criminalize many people who are taking some things for granted because we have never really said that such activities are or are not legitimate. We have not identified that we would infringe on the legitimization of those items.

Other groups have expressed these concerns too. It is not just those of us who have been teachers, are teachers, or who are parents of a teenager, whose hair will grow my colour; other groups have expressed concerns as well.

The Quebec bar association, for example, in a letter to the ministers of heritage and industry states that the bill is severely flawed. I do not know why it is that we as parliamentarians constantly conjure up solutions that are so deeply flawed that people who deal with this every day see the holes in it immediately. We do not come here and extol the virtues of actually doing something. Specifically regarding Bill C-32 bar association officials say first of all that it does not meet Canada's international obligations as it goes against the three-step test before granting exceptions without remuneration to rights holders.

Think what that means for a moment. It really suggests that people have not done their homework in terms of what it is that has to be done. International bodies have a particular test and we do not meet it. We have not done that elementary homework. They also say it raises problems of coherence with international and provincial legal text and is ambiguous in the treatment of the responsibility of Internet service providers.

Now we have the medium, but those who activate the medium or who make it possible for all of the creators to get on the medium are also liable. This legislation does not address their liability and their responsibilities accurately, currently and effectively enough. That is from a bar association. I am assuming its officials had to talk to some consumers and experts in the use of the Internet either for file sharing, for pleasure, for education, or for the conduct of business. As I said, they probably did not talk to some of the young people who are in this House.

It introduces legal uncertainty, and whenever we introduce legal uncertainty, we are encouraging litigation. As a piece of legislation, this body representing lawyers is saying that it is good for the lawyers because if this bill is passed, there will be more people knocking on lawyers' doors. We will hear the sound of cash registers. Well, nobody uses cash registers any more; that is another archaic reference.

It reminds me of my own dad who wanted me to become a lawyer. There were at that time 4,000 lawyers in the province of Ontario. I think there are now 26,000, so my dad would have been right. He would have said, “Even if my son is not very good, look at all the market that is out there looking for bad lawyers”. It has increased from 4,000 to 26,000. Everybody is going to keep going ka-ching, as my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso said.

Those lawyers are honest enough. I realize some people would like to play with that, but those lawyers and those law associations are honest enough to say, “Pass the bill as it is and make us richer”, because that is what we will encourage, litigation. It creates exemptions, they go on to say, that depend on conditions that are either unrealistic or impossible to verify. They speak about the amounts of moneys and energies that will have to be consumed in order to bring some of these items to a forum where litigation is the order of the day. Can we avoid that? They are telling us to.

It introduces a dangerously imprecise concept of education that I talked about a few moments ago, and fair dealing, because according to the bar association, one can expect several cases of litigation, given the way the bill is written, on education alone. My principal, before I became one, said to me, “Do not go copying any of this stuff. Do not go distributing it to students. Do not do this. Do not do that”. “I have got a piece of chalk and a blackboard. Is that the way you want me to conduct my teaching?” “Well, we cannot afford to get sued.” I would not get sued if I referred to a book. However, if I copy a page out of the book, I am in trouble. If I want my students to have something physically in front of them, how do I overcome this liability that I will incur the moment I stand up in front of the class and say, “Hey, isn't this really great? You know that guy; he had great ideas, and let us take a look at it” and go on from there. I am not going into pedagogy, because it was boring then and it is boring today.

My point is that education is still the same process. It is still the same. The media and the techniques may vary, and we cannot expose today's teachers to litigation or potential for same. That same bar association says it negates the collective exercise of copyright and favours individual litigation through impractical and unrealistic remedies. So thank goodness we have members of Parliament who can read, because we actually read this material. Now we are looking at this proposed legislation in the context of some expertise from the legal side, but not from the technical side just yet.

The legal side says here is the ultimate test of unfairness. It removes remuneration from rights holders, thereby ruining the existing equilibrium between creators and users of protected material, contrary to the very objectives of the law. Certainly, if we want to make good legislation, we have to think that the legislation we propose and pass in this House has to meet that first test of balance so that it is fair for you, Madam Speaker, it is fair for me and it is fair for all those who come in between or who depend on us. It may not be the absolute thing, but at least it has to be a balance. It cannot be too much of one or too much of the other.

One can see that the bill tries to fix a problem introduced in and by the digital age, but we have been in this age for decades. As I said, these young pages were born in the digital age; they know no other. Yet here we are. We are trying to find a system that adequately compensates artists, because that is a word we have not used often in our debate so far. We have talked about creators, but really, they are artists, because that is the difference between a creator and someone who practises what has already been created. If somebody is artistic, it goes beyond the genius of a simple mathematical or scientific solution.

If we are going to find a system that adequately compensates these artists while recognizing the realities of the current world, this bill cannot be judged to work, and it will not work in the long term because that balance is gone.

The bill ignores the fact that people share files all the time. Ask any high school student, any university student, and we will receive a lesson, as I do all the time, on the latest file sharing techniques. There is always somebody out there who is smarter than the next person, and the moment one solution is imposed, somebody finds a different way to get around it.

The Conservative government aided in the creation of this file sharing culture. We might think this is good. Sure. But by not stepping in at the outset, the Conservatives implied that while file sharing might not necessarily be legal, there is no consequence to file sharing illegally. In other words, there is no consequence. No law is being broken if no law is being enforced.

There are people who are obviously interested. We have the advantage of these new technologies. A constituent of mine is following the debate today and says that it would be like a Brink's truck crashing and having all the cash fall out. At first nobody does anything, but eventually someone goes and picks up a bundle of cash, looks around, and there are no police officers. Other people show up. They pick up another bundle of cash. What do you do? You call the police. Of course that is the right thing to do, to try to enforce something. Meanwhile, a lot of people have walked away with a lot of cash.

That is why the government is implicitly culpable in the circumstances it is trying to address today. It has done very little to address the problems of the digital age when it comes to protecting the rights of artists and creators and balancing the rights of consumers and learners.

We need to create new business models not only as a government, but we need to engage industry so that it can provide those new models for us. Government needs to work with them as we move in a satisfactory direction.

Is there any example out there that we might use? The Apple iTunes that some people engage in, the 99¢ songs, is one example of the industry reacting in a positive way. I note that there are a lot of others. These ideas must also be encouraged.

Some of my colleagues have talked about mashups, statutory damages, public exhibition of arts, resale of arts, recordings, et cetera. These are the items that some of the stakeholders raised, some who have visited me in my riding office and some who have lobbied. There is a word that is not always a legitimate word to use in anything, but they have lobbied members of Parliament from all parties to give them a sense of what is involved, to give them an education about the best way to handle these problems as proposed by Bill C-32.

As a member who has been here for some time, I am constantly impressed by individuals who come with the infusion of a new idea and want to be able to resolve this. I listen to them as all members in this House of Commons tend to do and should do. I often wonder why it is that the government does not follow the same thing. It is a tried and true road to success. The government needs to listen to the people who are creators, listen to the people who are artist creators, listen to the distributors, listen to those who commercialize and manufacture, listen to the consumers, listen to the experts on the material and listen, as I have tried to do, to those who have a legal framework into which we place all of it.

All of this is to say that if we are going to have to support an initiative of this nature we need to give it more careful study, and we are going to study this more carefully.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I greatly appreciate the comments by my colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence. We have to realize that Bill C-32 is basically the third attempt to update Canada's copyright laws in the last six years.

The legislation has remained untouched since 1997, and the Liberal government attempted to update the legislation in the dying days of the Paul Martin regime with Bill C-60. Therefore this is a similar type of bill.

The Conservative government introduced Bill C-61 nearly two years ago but had to withdraw the bill in the face of widespread criticism that it was too cumbersome and too closely modelled on the restrictive U.S. DMCA, the digital millennium copyright act.

At first glance, Bill C-32 appears to strike a balance between corporate and consumer interests. However, my colleagues on the NDP side and, from what I can understand, also my Liberal colleagues are raising some concerns with respect to whether or not the bill actually does what it should be doing. I hope the Liberal members are true to their word with regard to their concerns and when the bill gets to committee they will actually be honest about wanting to change the problematic areas of the bill and will not look at passing a bill that is still going to be defective.

In looking at Bill C-32, we see that it treats breaking of digital locks for personal use the same as if the lock were being broken by commercial counterfeiting. I am trying to get some sense if the member is in agreement with me with regard to whether or not this is politically problematic, as it potentially pits artist groups against students and educational organizations.

I know the member spoke about the education aspect of it and whether we should actually be trying give criminal records to our students. I guess that is the bigger question. Should we be treating our students like criminals?

The member talked about the teachers and whether or not they should be destroying those notes. So again it is the cost to the education process.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope my colleague will forgive me if I was reading while she was also making a comment. The reason I was reading is that a page handed me a faxed sheet from a major employer in the educational field in southern Ontario. The present CEO happens to live in my riding and he said, “I have been watching with great interest the introduction of this bill. It has an enormous impact on our company”. I am summarizing. “We employ some 250 people. In education this would create a serious problem for us, in all of the full range of the materials that we utilize and we sell to school boards and to teachers”.

The member's question is absolutely apropos. It should not be anyone's intention to turn students into criminals, nor should it be anyone's intention to turn teachers into criminals for sharing some of the artistry, the creativity of others, in a learning process.

We need to be able to come up with the definitions that make sense in the real marketplace. We need to come up with the definitions and the legal parameters that make sense from, in this case, the producer's point of view and the consumer's point of view. They both live, economically, in the same environment and we need to strike that appropriate balance.

I think the member can count on members of our caucus to make sure the debate goes in that direction.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, this has been a very worthwhile debate. For anybody who has been following the debate today, I think a number of great points have been brought out. My colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence has on several occasions referred to balance, which is the essence of what is important here.

As taxpayers, it is important that when we look at our education dollars, we can see that a portion of those education dollars need to go to the physical structure, the heat, the lights, the roof overhead, the desks, and the materials that come in, and a portion toward the salaries of the teachers and the administration. Those are all relevant parts of the education dollars.

One per cent of those education dollars goes to the collective licensing for those who create those materials. It is imperative that we protect those writers who create those materials.

What does my colleague see as the cautionary principles or the types of parameters that we will be able to put around this to ensure that the creators are protected, recognized and compensated?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso has put his finger right on it.

School boards, universities and libraries around the country think in terms of what portion of their budget they ought to allocate to the rights of creators and artists. We call those licensing agreements for legal purposes and those licensing agreements must carry a particular value. They permit anybody in that educational library or information dissemination industry to share that creation and, when they do, they think in terms of the obvious limits. They constantly upgrade their product.

We can see that it would be unrealistic, let us say a generation ago, to buy a textbook, seal it in Saran wrap or some such other thing, give it to someone and say, “I give it only to you. Once you have taken off that wrap, then it belongs to you. You cannot give it to anybody else. If you share your book with another student, the book self-immolates, it burns”.

That is essentially what we are asking these digital locks to do, which is to prevent somebody from actually opening that book. When people open it, they will actually read it and consume it. Whether the individual is standing or sitting beside them as they read this book or whether we send it to them and say that they can borrow the book for a week, it is the same concept.

As my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso has so rightly pointed out, we may need to revisit some of these licensing agreements as the infrastructure for the digital lock problem from the point of view of educational institutions.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government has been arguing that it has to follow the United States model because of the WIPO, World Intellectual Property Organization, Internet treaties. However, the reality is that of the 88 states in the world that have ratified the WIPO Internet treaties, fewer than half of them have actually adopted the U.S. model.

Why is the government attempting to steadfastly follow the American model when only half of the 88 countries that have ratified the treaties have in fact followed the American model? Could it have something to do with the entertainment lobbyists in the United States, the recording studios and maybe even the United States politicians themselves having influence on the Conservative government?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I would enjoy the opportunity to engage in some mirthful repartee here but the member is asking me to attempt to justify the government's positioning and thinking on this. I always find that a difficult exercise, not being a Conservative by demeanour and certainly not being so by ideology.

A strict fact of life that my colleague will know is that the creative community is no longer completely, almost homogenously, contained in the United States. It is a very creative environment but it is not exclusively so. There is great competition in the many states of Europe and even more in the emerging and increasingly commercialized China, India and Southeast Asia.

One might say that we are doing great damage to those countries in Latin America and South America that have their own creative geniuses that we have not recognized. Many of them are also engaged in producing creations that have a trans-world application. Why the government seems to follow singularly and exclusively an American model is beyond me. There are other people who have—

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

Copyright Modernization Act
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4:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I was really enjoying what my colleague had to say and it is unfortunate that he ran out of time.

I am glad to join in this debate and add my thoughts on an important issue for Canada and for Canadians. The effects of this legislation, if it becomes law, will be felt throughout our economy and society. Therefore, it is important for us to ensure that Bill C-32 lives up to its billing as a balanced Copyright Act.

I am certain that all of us in this place have a desire to get it right this time since it is the third time in five years that Canada has tried to modernize its Copyright Act. Not even the Liberals before that could get it right. It is something we promised to do when we signed on to the WIPO treaties in 1997. Again, WIPO stands for World Intellectual Property Organization. This is an issue with a lot of stakeholders. It might be tempting to look at it as a debate over the rights to one specific item, like music, but that is too simplistic.

Music is a useful example because it shows us many of the ways this legislation will be tested, but there are arts communities, educators, students, corporations, technological innovators, entrepreneurs, a vigorous open source community and nearly every Canadian involved in his or her role as a consumer that need to be considered too. That is not a complete list but it shows us how many diverse and, in some cases, opposing opinions need to be considered when we talk about the modernization of Canada's copyright laws.

It is easy to see why we need to do this. The technology available today has made our existing laws almost obsolete. The laws we have are suitable for another era. The last time we updated them, computers did not have the ability to hold much information. The Internet was still new, slow and not as diverse or complex. There was not a reliable or standard format for digital music beyond the CD. It was a time when a lot of us still had cassette players and some of us still had eight-track players in our cars. That was only 13 years ago. Let us fast forward now.

Now in 2010, we can see people using public transit watching a television program from the night before on electronic devices no bigger than a cassette tape. We see others listening to music on digital devices that can hold hundreds of songs. It is clear that the memory capacity of these devices has improved considerably compared to the cassette tapes we listened to 13 years ago. It is also clear that advances in digital technology have already gone beyond the scope of the existing version of the Copyright Act.

As I have mentioned, this is not the first attempt by the government to update the Copyright Act. Canada needs to be brought in line with advances in both technology and current international standards. The issue is not simple and yet it must addressed since it is at the heart of Canada's ability to be a competitive player in our increasingly technologically-defined world.

Ever since Canada signed the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties, we have been on a collision course with the revamping of our existing laws. It is our commitment.

While it is important to protect the rights of the biggest players in the industry, such as movie studios, record labels, gaming and software companies and the like, it is also important to protect the individual artists, educators and consumers. We need to recognize the way in which people choose to consume copyrighted work and to have legislation that reflects this.

As we saw from the American prosecution of Napster, using the courts to fill in gaps in existing laws can become a bit like a game of WHAC-A-MOLE. We learned from that experience that the desires of the consumer will not conform to approval formats. If we close down Napster what happens? We get different file-sharing sites. I can see how this would drive some stakeholders crazy but it also illustrates how every battle won may not have a happy ending and that emerging technology can have the ability to expose loopholes in copyright legislation.

New Democrats are happy to be having this debate and see in Bill C-32 some good measures along with some that need improving. It is our hope that we will be able to roll up our sleeves and make the fixes that will allow this legislation to ultimately pass.

For many people, the sticking point in Bill C-32 is the overarching power given to digital locks. Copyright activist, Russell McOrmond. says:

All of the comparatively positive aspects of the bill are nullified by the legal protection of technological measures, including by allowing these all too often abused technologies to supersede and effectively replace the rest of the Copyright Act.

Digital locks exist. It is a phenomenon that has been accepted in some things and not others. People buy and use locked items now, such as video games, DVDs, software and so on. They are not really the issue. It is the legal power they will have and how that power is greater than it needs to be that is the issue.

This update treats the breaking of digital locks for personal use the same as if the lock were being broken for commercial counterfeiting. We do not do that in other areas. We do not treat a first-time shoplifter the way we do a bank robber. Why should we penalize a kid posting a mashup on YouTube that uses previously locked material the same way we would a real video pirate?

It was hoped that Canada would not go as far as the United States has with its digital millennium copyright act. We see in the United States a desire to criminalize the consumer and exact punishing fines that is too heavy-handed. We have concerns about emulating too much of the American position when it might not be necessary.

In the long debate leading up to this current update, we heard that Canadian musicians and songwriters reject lawsuits against individuals as a way to protect their material. They did not want to bring new meaning to Joe Strummer's Jail Guitar Doors. In fact, there are some musicians who see little value in trying to sell their work. A lot of artists in Canada release their own music online for free. They might use a Creative Commons licence to do this.

If the music is shared for free by others, with the owner's permission to do so, would it still be legal? I would be interested in hearing the answer to this question, since it will have an effect on the legitimate business practice.

For the artists who use a Creative Common licence, they see their products as advertising and a way to get people out to their shows. The new reality in the music business is that the money is to be found at the box office and not in the record store.

This update goes some of the way toward distancing Canada from the kinds of fines we have seen in the U.S. for consumers who download copyright material. The government tells us that it does not want to punish individual users. It wants to focus its deterrence and enforcement efforts on distributors and large websites that illegally host copyrighted content.

The fact remains that provisions in the legislation, especially the power given to digital locks, can lead to prosecution. Fines might be reduced from a maximum of $20,000 per copyrighted work to a one-time maximum penalty of $5,000 in situations in which copyrighted works have been illegally accessed for non-commercial purposes, but there are a lot of ways this can be interpreted.

We need to ensure the law does not prescribe excessive force when it is not needed. This update creates new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act, including exceptions for educators and exceptions for parody and satire for which Canadian artists have asked.

For educators, it is problematic. They will have to determine what these exceptions mean for materials used in the classroom. We have heard this on a number of occasions today with respect to educators.

There are also new regulations for materials distributed for distance learning and a requirement to destroy those copyrighted materials 30 days after the class has ended. One would have to get another copy to go back and re-read something. This will not make sense to many Canadians. It runs counter to most of our experiences.

Truth be told, there is more in the bill than I could cover in the time allotted to me. For example, there is a section that deals with those who do cover work. For a performer who makes a living by interpreting someone else's work, this is an important consideration as it is for the artist who has created the work on which the performance is based. Still, I would hope this does not extend to the average garage band that might make a few bucks here and there and basically learn the ropes by playing other people's songs. It would be something like charging a kid in minor hockey for emulating an NHL player's moves on a breakaway. Again, it would go against what Canadians would see as being both right and fair.

I will focus on the larger issues and leave the fine details to the work of the committee. I have outlined one already with respect to the power given to digital locks, and I will explore one more.

The bill effectively would end the copying levy on blank media by not including music-playing devices like iPods as the natural next in line to older forms that were taxed, such as CDs and cassette tapes. The legislation would end an important revenue stream for artists and would ignore the way that technology has changed, the very thing the bill is supposed to do.

On that note, I am sure that many of my colleagues here have been lobbied by some of these artists who have indicated that this is an important part of their ability to continue to be an artist and get a little revenue for what they have done. The exclusion of this provision sends the wrong message. We are really missing the mark if we do not include some kind of compensation to recognize the way these devices are used and the way that music, ebooks and other forms of digital art are shared. Without such a measure, we are cutting artists out of the mix and ignoring the reality and purpose of the current technology. We did not do that for previous forms of blank media. I ask the government this. What is so different about things like iPods?

If we want to hear an authoritative voice on this subject, we can listen to my colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay. He is both a recording musician as well as an author and knows a thing or two about copyright from the perspective of an artist. Recently he was a featured guest at an American conference discussing the issues of the digital culture and the music industry.

To give members and idea of the importance of this event, T Bone Burnett addressed the same audience. Mr. Burnett also knows a thing or two about the music business. A musician and fabulous producer, he has worked with notable Canadians, like k.d. Lang and Bruce Cockburn, as well as international stars like Elvis Costello.

He has been nominated for an Academy Award for his work on film scores and is active in the search for a better way to present digital music than the current formats that are dramatically less responsive than the album format we have largely abandoned.

All this to say, the member for Timmins—James Bay, one of my colleagues from the northern team, is in good company as a stakeholder in this debate. The member has this to say about extending the blank media levy to the new music playing devices, “In a world of endless downloading, we need to provide a monetizing stream for artists...the levy is compensating artists for some of the enormous amount of copying that is taking place”.

It is fair to say that the New Democratic Party's position on copyright is based on the principles of compensation and access. It reflects our belief that artists need to be paid for their work and consumers should be able to access these works with the least amount of restrictions.

I want to go back and quote a few things from Dr. Jeremy de Beer. He raised this issue in his study of Bill C-61, of which Bill C-32 is a re-enactment. He stated that the digital rights provisions were:

—a poorly veiled attempt by the Government to strengthen the contractual rights available to copyright owners, in the guise of copyright reform and the implementation of Canada’s international obligations. Future iterations of Bill C-61 that do not take the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (and the overall scheme of the Act) into account would also likely to fail constitutional scrutiny.

There is some grave concern with respect to the constitutional scrutiny that the bill would actually have in place.

The copyright reform must be based on a willingness to work collaboratively to amend the many outstanding problems with the legislation.

As I have indicated, this is the third time there has been an attempt to update Canada's copyright laws in the last six years. The Liberals could not get it done with Bill C-60. The Conservatives could not get it done with Bill C-61. We hope that with Bill C-32 people will want to work together to address the problematic areas in the bill in order to ensure artists have legislation that will work.

We will see the bill through to committee with the hope that it can be improved so it will reflect the belief and be able to give Canadian copyright law the update it really needs.

Copyright Modernization Act
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4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I think people watching at home are very surprised to hear that Bill C-32 would require teachers and students to destroy digital lessons 30 days after the course concludes. That will be a big surprise to a lot of people. In addition, Bill C-32 would require librarians to ensure that intra-library digital loans self-destruct within five days of first use.

Could the member confirm that this is the case with Bill C-32 and does she think that is fair?

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4:30 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. People have a reason to worry about what the legislation would do if it was unamended.

The fact is we do not want to treat them like criminals. We want to ensure they will not be charged. We want to also ensure they have access to the materials that foster the future of our country, which is our young people. It does not make any sense to instill penalties on the work or the tools that they need to do the job.

As far as I am concerned, these areas really need to be amended. I hope the government side will see fit to make those necessary changes.

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4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing a civilized question.

I listened to my colleague's speech. She was very courteous. She has listened to everybody else's debate in the House. I thought she had some very good insights.

Her concern centred specifically around the one provision about locked in measures that would prevail, whether we were talking about video games, or information of great value or creative pieces.

She has indicated that her party will support the bill at second reading. I did not hear anybody say that before. I deduced that from her suggestion the bill would be scrutinized at committee and the only way it could get there was if someone supported its passage and direction to committee.

That seemed to me to go a bit beyond saying that this was a really bad bill that should be eliminated on the floor of the House at second reading. The other position is that it is really bad but we should send it off to committee in an environment where coalitions develop. The government is always looking for a coalition partner. Perhaps it will find somebody on committee to support it.

Did I hear that correctly? Does she really want some co-operation in committee to effect a bill that actually makes sense other than this one?

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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not the only member of the New Democratic Party who has indicated we are willing to move the bill to committee so we can look at the problematic areas. My colleague has also indicated that his party was willing to work with it as well.

He also mentioned a coalition, which surprises me. People are getting a little tired of hearing the government side always referring to the coalition. There is no bigger coalition than the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals either vote in favour of what the government does and gives it the majority it needs, or they do not show up to vote. Then they turn around and say that they voted against it, but in the meantime they sent some members out the chamber.

I want to talk about the digital locks. The digital lock provisions in the bill make a mockery of any claims of balance. The government claims to be providing new exemptions and rights, fair dealing of educational uses, reproduction for private purposes, making backup copies, copying rights for the printed disabled and the so-called YouTube mashup provision. If there is a digital lock in place, an individual will be criminalized if he or she tries to use these rights. These sections need to be fix.

Proposed section 41 lays out technological protection measures, which supersede the rights of citizens who would normally be able to enjoy the non-digital realm. Bill C-32 offers rights that the consumer will not be able to exercise.

It is quite important to see what is in the bill and what needs to be changed. The government is creating a two-tier level of rights between digital and non-digital products instead of legal certainty. Canadian citizens will face arbitrary limitations on their legal rights to access.

As I have indicated, the NDP is supportive of moving this bill to committee. The committee will then decide on what amendments to make to it. The seriousness of this is whether or not the Liberals and the Conservatives are willing to work at fixing the problematic areas to ensure that educators, students and some of the artists are not made criminals.

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4:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member.

The Conservatives have indicated that they are forced to, in effect, follow the American approach to the WIPO Internet treaties and the digital locks by virtue of the fact that they have signed the treaties. The fact of the matter is that 88 states in the world have actually ratified the WIPO treaties, with only half of them actually supporting the American approach.

The question I have for the member is whether she believes that perhaps the government is being overly influenced by the American movie lobby and business lobby, and perhaps even American politicians, to get their version of what should be a proper agreement in force in Canada.

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4:40 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, it is evident that we should be following the WIPO approach.

Certainly we can look at some of the language that is in there, but does Canada have a plan to review new exceptions every three years? The answer is no.

The U.S. DMCA experience leaves little doubt that the introduction of anti-circumvention legislation will create some unintended consequences. No matter how long the list of circumvention rights and other precautionary measures, it is impossible to identify all future concerns associated with anti-circumvention legislation.

So they are committed to looking at it every three years. It does not appear to be in the plan of the government.

I thank the member for the question.