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

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make two points. One is that YouTube actually does monetize traffic that is on there, which I think is a very positive element. That is why I do not mind any of my works being on YouTube, as long as there is a monetizing stream. It is important.

In terms of a monetizing stream, we see how the government attacked the levy, called it a tax, misrepresented the numbers and used it in its political mail-outs. Yet the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages went one step further.

In Europe there is the Pirate Party. Even the Pirate Party has never said anything as audacious as the Conservative Party that said, “We do not need to compensate artists through a levy because we have the Canada Council for the Arts”. Because there is a support program for the creation of arts in place in Canada, as exists in many countries, somehow the obligation to respect copyright is made null and void and we do not need to maintain a revenue stream for artists because they can apply for a grant to the Canada Council.

I know many, many artists personally who make their living by playing, by royalties and by copyright. Very few of them ever apply to the Canada Council.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague why he thinks it is that the Conservative government would believe that just because there are certain programs in existence to support artists that the larger obligation to respect copyright and to respect the right of artists to be remunerated is somehow made null and void in this digital age?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, culture is always compromised with this government. During the last federal election campaign, Quebec's artists and artisans took action to make the government understand that they would not accept cuts to existing culture programs that allow our creators to function.

After using federal funds and budgets and threatening artists with cuts, now the government is using legislation to make them understand that we are living in a completely open market, in the wild west, and that the big players—the broadcasters and Internet service providers—will get benefits. Those who form the very foundation of the services provided will be dropped. Big Internet service providers are nothing without these artists.

We need to ensure that cultural content, which is produced on platforms and sometimes used for other purposes, is first authorized and then receives fair royalties. This Conservative government always compromises culture. We saw it during the last election campaign, and we are now seeing it with Bill C-32.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be here as I have been delving into this issue since 2004 when I was first elected and became a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Back then, we had to deal with what was from 1997 the major last reforms to copyright and then we went into a new bill in 2005, which was Bill C-60. In 2008, we received Bill C-61 from the government but that was put aside because the Conservatives wanted to change the bill to become more technologically neutral. Those were the words by the industry minister earlier today.

This signifies the first time that we have had a fulsome debate in the House for quite some time because those prior bills never had a fair hearing within the House. We had a few debates here and there but not a fulsome debate like we are having today. I congratulate my colleagues, the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the critic from the Bloc Québécois and the critic from the NDP, for their speeches. They all, in their own way, put out well researched speeches with some incredibly valid points.

Once again I will reiterate that our party will vote at second reading to put this to a committee so we can give it a fair hearing. When I first looked at this bill, and despite the problems that I personally have with it, I wondered if it needed to be fundamentally changed before we reached second reading. I knew that if we voted yes at second reading, we would be accepting, by and large, the principles in the bill and, therefore, major amendments to change the direction of the bill in certain ways could not be done as they would be overruled by the Speaker.

At that point during the discussion, we decided to go ahead because we needed balanced copyright legislation. It is long overdue, no doubt about it, and everyone should perhaps grab just a little bit of blame in all of that as this discussion has gone on. We signed WIPO treaties in 1996, one dealing with the Internet and the other one dealing with phonograms. Since then, however, we have yet to ratify, pending, of course, the right amount of legislation or balanced copyright legislation. In this instance, Bill C-32, which is in front of us now, was really borne out of the ashes of other bills that have died on the order paper.

Going back to copyright and the issue therein, how do artists receive the right amount of remuneration for the work they have done? I will go back to the origins of copyright. The first time Canada had copyright legislation was in 1868. We felt the need, even back then, for artists to protect what they create but that it would be balanced with the right of users to have access to this material which was very important going back to the beginning and the genesis of the printing presses.

In 1868 and years thereafter, it started in Great Britain, moved its way to Canada and through the United States where it felt the same urge, need and desire to protect artists' rights and, at the same time, mass distribution for this material so it could be accessed by the public. However, by protecting some of this material we did not want to protect it to the point where we kept it under wraps from the general public and people could not get access to it.

The year 1875 was another time when Canada went full ahead and made changes to copyright legislation so that it would be more in line with other countries. Even at the very beginning of copyright legislation there was always the compulsion to bring it in line with what is international standards as artists' work really knows no boundaries. That was at a time when we were printing books for mass distribution. We did not have anything like the radio or record players but now, in the digital age with the Internet, the global village has become that much smaller.

In the very beginning, if memory serves me correctly, I believe the origins of copyright internationally was that British books were being distributed throughout the British Empire and there needed to be certain protections for that as it was distributed to countries like Australia, India or Canada, throughout the British Commonwealth.

The first time Canada saw a glimpse of modern copyright legislation, or at least something that was considered for quite some time to be the cornerstone of copyright legislation, came in 1924. Around that time it was comprehensive enough that it covered many aspects of what was out there in the public realm. Again I go back to books, certain recordings, photographs and that sort of thing, obviously at the very early stages.

As my colleague from the NDP pointed out earlier, the arguments that we are putting forth here today started in the latter part of the 19th century. He used the example of the rolling piano where music was played on an automatic piano, which we have seen in the movies, and whether that would destroy a piano player's career. Obviously, it did not. After that, would recorded music destroy the concert or would people stop going to concerts because they now had an album that featured the artist's recordings? That was not the case as, of course, concerts have increased dramatically from the time of their inception.

From 1924, we went on to make some substantial amendments to the legislation, obviously with the changing times, in 1985 as well as in 1997. Both governments, Progressive Conservative and Liberal, have made substantial changes throughout the years. There seems to be a camaraderie or general understanding to reach out to other parties within this House to ensure we have the right legislation.

However, so many stakeholders are involved in this that there needs to be a comprehensive look at how we deal with copyright and, in order to do that, it needs to receive a mature debate. Today we are debating the bill at second reading and it seems that we are now laying the building blocks for what is about to be a fulsome debate on where copyright is going in this digital age.

I also want to talk briefly about the other bills.

Bill C-60, which was introduced in 2005, received quite a bit of stakeholder response and a lot of it dealing with the fact that we are getting into the digital age. A lot of this was spurred on by the fact that all of a sudden we were sitting in front of a wide array of music selection that we did not need to pay for. It was free. This was the origin of Nabster and LimeWire. With those devices, all of a sudden the consumer had the ultimate choice. Not only was it available in many arrays and all types of genres, it was actually free. That was a fundamental misstep, a fundamental breaking of the contract that we as government have with artists, which is to say that we will help them protect their work.

Nabster has gone by the wayside, or at least the free version has, and other equivalent facsimiles of how that type of music is distributed, meaning peer-to-peer sharing. They have disappeared but there are business models out there. I personally purchase music at 99¢ a song, and I am fine with that. I do not have a very large collection but I do have a collection that is big enough that I gleefully pay for it.

One of the issues that came from peer-to-peer sharing and one of the issues that has not been discussed yet is the information out there about what is illegal. This is something that has been dear to my heart as an issue. As my colleague pointed out earlier, in the United States right now this is incredibly litigious. The lawyers are running overtime when it comes to areas of copyright. A lot of the rules that are put down in America right now are really laid down by court judgments throughout the court system. To a certain degree that has happened here as well, but not to that extent.

In America there were several illustrations where children downloading music in their basements were being sued by major companies in multi-million dollar lawsuits. Obviously they cannot be involved in multi-million dollar lawsuits because there is no way they can get the money. Instead, the companies felt compelled to make a statement and made their statement by taking the most vulnerable in society to court. I will not come down too hard on companies for doing that as they had a legitimate concern about people stealing their product. However, at the same time, they did it with a great deal of haste and aggression that I would not agree with. I think that we, as government, should address that issue.

However, the result of that was the introduction of Bill C-60 in 2005, which, as I stated previously, created a lot of input and for all good reasons. The government changed in 2006 and we found ourselves going back in 2008 with Bill C-61. Bill C-61 went off in different directions from Bill C-60 in many cases but some of the fundamental aspects remained intact.

However, the problem was that in many cases people felt that it had been rushed through too quickly or that it had never received the right debate within the House. Many of the stakeholders thought Bill C-61, because it was illustrative, was maybe too illustrative because it set out certain examples and put people in corners. Basically it was too smothering, as someone told me. Bill C-61 found itself it to be too much for everybody to handle. At this point it went back to the drawing board. As we have heard this morning, I think “technologically neutral” was the response that came back.

Bill C-32 is the latest version of this and hopefully with the agreement of members of this House it will actually make a fulsome attempt to put this into law, and that way the next time we deal with this will be as something that comes way down the pipeline.

One of the issues that keeps being raised is peer-to-peer sharing. I have always made the comment that the problem with having legislation that is too stringent and too detailed in nature is that it becomes oppressive to the point where it just does not adapt. I have said it before and I will say it again. It seems that whenever there is a technical measure by which people are not allowed to get to a certain piece of art, roadblocks are put up around it. Governments do it through regulation to keep people out for access reasons.

However, once that it is put in, I have a 16-year-old son who could get around it within 48 hours. I am not exaggerating because I have seen it happen. I would not want to say that it was my son because I would get him in trouble since this is a public forum, but I have seen it happen. Teenagers do not like to be told that they cannot access certain material for whatever reason.

In the old days, when we were told that we could not access certain material for whatever reason, we would get upset if we could not access certain art or music because it broke Canadian laws or regulations on content. Nowadays, when roadblocks are put up to deny teenagers access, they laugh. It is a big joke. In essence, they find that it is not a big deal because they will find it and get to it in 48 hours. They have done it before and they will do it again.

The concept is that they are breaking the law. Artists have protection around their material that they need to make a living. If a particular parent is sitting at home and is not familiar with the new ways for children to attain music, movies or any type of entertainment nowadays, a parent would be horrified. Parents would be horrified if someone were to call them at home and say that he or she had just caught their child shoplifting at HMV and that the child had tried to walk out of the building with a CD in his or her pocket.

Some kids can download about 20 to 25 CDs from their computer in the run of five minutes. That is okay. Some kids tell their dads that they just downloaded the new movie that is out in the theatres onto CD. A lot of parents just do not pay any attention and just say “Okay, that is great. Let us go watch it.” It is illegal.

I hope part of the debate elevates copyright infringement and how the protections in place for artists are there for a reason, which is to protect the artists' work. It is stealing. We can call it that. In the end, artists are unable to make a living if their material is not protected.

On the other hand, one of the provisions in the bill talks about digital locks. We have all talked about this. We have all heard about this. Is it too stringent in this particular bill? It needs to be discussed. Is it a situation where digital locks cannot be touched? I am not so sure.

I said earlier that I have a concern about the fact that one particular company may have a digital lock in place over certain material. If someone downloads a piece of music or a movie, that piece of music or that movie can only be listened to or viewed by that company's equipment. I have concerns about that because the individual probably purchased the movie legally but is locked in a corner as to how he or she can use it. That deserves to be revisited.

I refuse to believe that the digital lock issue is cut and dried. Educators have said that the digital lock provisions would be too harsh on them now that they have an educational exemption. We have one group weighed off against the other. That involves a full debate. That has to be talked about because many people have a point. I met yesterday with the Canadian Federation of Students who brought that issue up.

On the other hand, some artists are happily ensconced and making a good living by the fact that digital locks allow their material to be protected. Software companies are a case in point.

Canada has a fantastic software industry for games, the intellectual property of video games, Xbox, PlayStation. We have a great industry here and it certainly deserves protection. We need to look at this material with open minds and consider debating it.

Unfortunately the debate earlier was going in different directions regarding the levy that was imposed upon CDs, DVDs or DVDRs and the way artists are able to achieve money to protect their livelihoods. They came up with a solution in the late nineties but it is not within this bill. The government does not agree with it but it deserves to be discussed. I hope the government will be open to revisiting that issue once again when we get this legislation in committee.

There are other issues as well in these changing times. I mentioned the downloading, or making a copy, of music or movies. This is copyright.

This debate started back in 2005. It is not that long ago, if we think about it. We started out with P2P, or peer-to-peer sharing. Nowadays we have live streaming, where no copy is involved. An individual just logs on and live streams what he or she wants. YouTube is a classic example. This technology is going at a blistering speed in the digital age and now we have to keep up.

I was happy to hear the minister talk about a five-year review, and I congratulate him on that. That goes a long way toward looking at legislation once again. Personally, I feel that is the way we should be going.

Bill C-32 contains a number of other measures such as those regarding mashups and the creation of a new exemption for user-generated content, which broadly written, could create an opening for abuse. That is true. We have to consider that.

Statutory damage is another issue we have to look at.

Fair dealing in general has to be looked at, fair dealing for access for consumers, fair dealing for parody, satire, but fair dealing for education. We have had a lot of input on that. Some people are very concerned about it, artists in particular.

Some artistry groups have said that an open-minded, fair dealing provision puts in the hands of the courts what should be determined by Parliament. That is something we have to consider. Again, it becomes incredibly litigious. Fair dealing has that possibility so we have to consider that. We have to draft legislation to make sure that does not happen, in my humble opinion. Artist groups are saying that the full impact of an open-ended fair dealing provision may be difficult to predict but the fact that there will be unintended consequences is wholly predictable.

The intent of the education provisions put forward by people from the University of Ottawa and by the Canadian Federation of Students is not to destroy the livelihoods of people who write textbooks. So again we have the interests of one weighed off against the interests of the other. We have to come down the middle in what I consider to be fair copyright legislation.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, at a recent United States conference that some of us in the House attended, we were approached by a United States congressperson about this whole area. What I would like to ask the member is whether he is aware of any lobbying that has been done by American interests, perhaps in the recording or movie industries, to try to influence the development of this bill.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good point. I will read a quote from a book titled From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”, which is a collection of articles on copyright. I will get to the quote in a moment, but it is a salient point and certainly is germane to this conversation because, when the member talks about the American interests, a lot of it has to do with digital locks because the major corporations headquartered in the United States have a vested interest in digital locks for that reason.

Again I push back to them just a little by saying that if I take an artist's material, and that artist could be Canadian, I can only play it on certain platforms that are deemed fit for that particular artist's work. I am not sure if I totally agree with that and I push back somewhat for the sake of public interest and for that particular artist. It is the song that I purchased; the method of distribution I care little for. It is just that I want that song or movie.

Sara Bannerman wrote an article in this book, one of the first articles in it. She brings up the international context of this debate, which I spoke about earlier in my speech, going way back to the late 1800s. She says:

Bill C-32 responds to the same pressures, domestic and international, that have historically characterized Canadian copyright reform. ... Bill C-32, to a greater extent than its predecessor in Bill C-60, bows to international demands and goes beyond the minimum requirements of the WIPO Internet treaties.

She has particular concerns about this bill and the international scope of it. That leads to the fact that, yes, there are a lot of international pressures, especially from the United States.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the member about one of the key issues in all of this, which is ensuring that creators are properly remunerated for their work and how we monetize the changes in technology. We have struggled with this throughout the last century and into this one with each change in technology, and we have struggled with how to make sure artists and creators are properly paid for their work.

A couple of decades ago there was the whole issue of blank cassettes, disks, people making mixed tapes and, in that situation, creators not being properly paid, so we went to a system of putting a levy on blank CDs and disks. It went to a copyright collective to ensure that the artists were paid. It was a made in Canada solution that worked well and served our artists well.

This bill abandons that approach. We could do it now with music-playing devices. We could ensure that levies on each of the devices go directly to artists and creators for their work. I am wondering what the member thinks of that issue and if it is a direction we should be moving in.

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Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, the question of the hon. member is germane to the debate in a big way. The business model that exists for artists right now is changing to the point where it is so incredibly fast that it is hard for the smaller artist to get involved in the business, or we create a barrier of entry for many young artists, because they do not know the processes well enough to adapt, because it is all about adaptation.

The hon. member brought up the levy situation. It is too bad that the levy got into the wrong type of debate. My colleague from the NDP who sits on the heritage committee brought forward a bill that basically extended the levy on blank CDs. There is a levy of so many cents on a blank CD, which is available for artists in general. The reason is that we were making so many mixed tapes or recording from different sources that the artists were not getting remuneration. So whenever we buy a blank cassette on which we put the songs, we have to pay a certain amount of money, a very small percentage of it, to go to an artist.

My colleague talks in his question about extending that into the next generation of recorded material, and that would be obviously things like iPods or MP3s. However, the Conservatives brought up a valid point in that it will push this toward all platforms, everything that is carrying music: cars, cellphones and the BlackBerry, which now has a way of playing music. Therein lies the nub of the issue. We have to get into the debate. I do believe that there is remuneration for artists through a levy type of compensation, but unfortunately the government turned around and called this a tax, by just saying that it is simply money out of pocket and therefore it is a tax, and it does not want to put a tax on iPods.

I say that it is money that goes directly to the artists, not to general revenues. If the Conservatives were so concerned about it, why did they put a fee on transportation at an airport? That is not a tax, though. That is what they say. They up the fees when we walk into an airport, but that is not a tax. That is a security fee.

It is disingenuous really to have an honest debate about what it is we are doing, which is to say that we need artists to be compensated for what they do, because if they are not, the next generation of artists will not be either. Yes, dare I say it, the next Justin Bieber is just around the corner. So many people flinch when I say that, but he is a good artist. The thing is that the next Justin Bieber, or the next struggling artist, will not get the compensation. I come from an area where there are a lot of artists, a lot of small independent artists who want to make a living. They are not asking for or commanding a major audience. They just want their own little audience. That way, when they distribute their material, they are compensated so that they can continue to do it in the beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, on this cold day in the House I just wanted to come back to the hon. member and follow up on some of his comments.

The most particularly egregious aspect of this legislation is the 30-day retroactive book burn, where students and teachers have to basically destroy content that they have received as part of their educational material. This is incredibly irresponsible, for anyone who understands the education sector, whether we are talking about high school, college or university. What it means is that students have to try to retain in their minds material that they have accessed as part of their educational requirement.

I want to get a comment from the member on how he feels about this particular measure that forces teachers and students to destroy their educational material, in other words, part of their education.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about this, as is the member. These issues are most important to me as a member because I represent a rural riding. I think this could have an adverse effect on rural ridings, in general, especially for those people who rely on long-distance education as the means by which they obtain their high school diploma or, even more prevalent, their post-secondary diploma.

I represent 191 towns in my riding. It is quite astounding how many students, and I mean secondary students, from grade 9, or junior high or high school, who rely on long-distance education to receive their high school diploma. Of those 191 towns, over 50 do not have access to broadband Internet, which is incomprehensible nowadays. When I tell people in Ottawa that somewhere in the vicinity of 20% to 30% of my riding has no access to broadband Internet, that they have only dial-up Internet, they do not know what I am talking about.

This gives us the idea that it is a right as a Canadian to receive access to broadband Internet. As politicians, we trip over ourselves trying to put asphalt in every town in the country, but yet when it comes to broadband Internet, we almost treat it like a luxury.

In any event, back to the issue. I am deeply concerned about the fact that a 30-day period is in place where the material has to be destroy and—

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Unfortunately, I will have to stop the hon. member there and move on.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the debate on Bill C-32, the copyright modernization act.

It is interesting that we are debating copyright in the House of Commons again. This corner of the House has been clear and consistent over many years about the importance of updating Canada's copyright legislation and regime.

New Democrats have always said, and our spokesperson on this issue, the member for Timmins—James Bay, said it again this morning, that we believe copyright reform is in the centre of what we need to do around digital innovation. It is the centrepiece of a digital innovation strategy. It is not the only piece, but it is the key component of how we approach that. The debate today and the expansion of the Internet and the technological changes we have seen bring that home daily for Canadians.

Our digital innovation strategy would not just be about copyright reform. It would be about codifying the protection for net neutrality to ensure the democracy on the Internet is protected and preserved. The attempts to offer tiered services so some people get their Internet services faster than others and some content goes faster than others need to be addressed. New Democrats have put forward proposals to ensure net neutrality.

We also believe that there needs to be a commitment to national benchmarks for broadband access. Canada needs to put the whole question of broadband access on the front burner to ensure that all Canadians have the broadband access they need to survive and flourish in the current environment.

We are falling behind other countries that are doing more in this area. Australia is a great example of that. It was a key proposal in Australia over a number of years, and it factored again in its most recent election, about it establishment of a national broadband network, which it calls fibre to home, an open access network. With the latest fibre optic technology, it goes to 93% of homes and businesses in Australia. It is a very fast service, at 100 megabits per second.

This is a huge infrastructure project for Australia, but it has served Australia well. It is a huge investment. It is the largest infrastructure investment in the history of Australia, a megaproject that will put the Australians in good stead for the future. We should consider this kind of thing in Canada as well.

Another component of a digital innovation strategy, which the New Democrats believe is very important, is to enhance the role of digital cultural programs to ensure Canadians can fully participate as international citizens within a democratic culturally vibrant public commons. That public commons has changed with the introduction of the Internet. I think all of us realize our lives are very different because of that development.

There are very key things that we need to look at as part of not only this specific discussion about copyright reform, but the broader context of copyright reform in Canada and digital innovation as well.

Bill C-32 is the third attempt to update Canada's copyright laws in the last six years. We have not made any changes to our copyright law since 1997. The previous Liberal government, the Martin government, tried to bring in changes to the copyright regime at the end of its term with Bill C-60.

When the current government came to power, it introduced Bill C-61 nearly two years ago, but withdrew the bill because of very broad criticism. It was too cumbersome and too closely modelled on the restrictive digital millennium copyright act in the United States. There have been significant problems with the U.S. legislation, which I am sure we do not want to repeat in Canada.

Bill C-32 is intended to strike a balance between corporate and consumer interests when it comes to copyright interest.

Regarding some of the highlights of the bill, we are told that the intention of Bill C-32 is to be technologically neutral, that it should apply across a broad range of devices and technologies with a view to ensuring adaptability to a constantly evolving technology environment. We know this is crucial to any new legislation on copyright. It cannot be legislation that becomes outdated almost as quickly as it is passed. It has to be something that serves us into the future. We have to get the broad principles of the legislation right or it will be outdated by the time it even passes through Parliament.

The government has also stated that its aim in updating the Copyright Act is not to punish individual users, but rather to focus its deterrence and enforcement efforts on distributors and large websites that illegally host copyrighted content. We will have to see whether that goal is actually accomplished. There is some criticism that the bill does not have that kind of focus and does not accomplish that goal, but the government has said it hopes it does.

What is included in the bill?

The bill would extend the term of copyright for performers and producers to 50 years from the time of publication of a musical performance.

It would create a new "making available" right in accordance with the WIPO treaties. This measure would give copyright owners exclusive control over how their content would be made available on the Internet.

It would introduce a mandatory review of the Copyright Act to take place very five years. Given the pace of technological change and given that we want to ensure the legislation actually does what it is intended to do, this mandatory review is very crucial.

The bill would formally enshrine in legislation commonplace grey area practices that would enable users to record TV programs for later viewing, or time-shifting, as long as they did not compile a library of recorded content. It would allow for the transfer of songs from CDs onto MP3 players, for instance, or format-shifting, and it would allow folks to make backup copies.

The legislation would also create new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provision of the Copyright Act, including exceptions for educators and for parody and satire. Canadian artists have been demanding this.

It would also create an exception for content creators that would enable the circumvention of DRMs through the express purpose of reverse engineering, for encryption research, for security testing, for perceptual disability and for software interoperability.

The bill would also introduce a new so-called YouTube exemption to deal with mashups that would allow Canadian users to compile clips of copyrighted works into a remixed work, as long as it was not created for commercial purposes.

Bill C-32 would also create a new exception for broadcasters to allow them to copy music for their operations.

The bill would create a carve out for network locks on cellphones.

The bill would also reduce statutory damages from a maximum fine of $20,000 per copyrighted work to a one-time maximum penalty of $5,000 in situations in which copyrighted works had been illegally accessed for non-commercial purposes.

A number of changes are included in the legislation, but that does not mean there are not problems with what is there. New Democrats have identified two key problems with how the Conservative government has approached copyright.

The rights that are offered in the fair dealing, or mashup and parity exemptions, can be overridden by the heavy legal protections being put in place for digital locks. Under Bill C-32, it would be illegal to break a digital lock, even if that lock prevented one from accessing material that one would otherwise be legally entitled to access. In fact, it treats the breaking of digital locks for personal use the same as if the lock were being broken for commercial counterfeiting. The whole question of the use of digital locks and their application, the extent to which they can be applied and how that conflicts with the rights of consumers, which the bill apparently tries to protect, and how those two interact is a huge problem with this legislation.

Consumers are guaranteed certain rights in the bill, but the reality is the holder, the manufacturer or the digital lock producer has the final say so, and those digital locks do seem to override the rights of consumers when it comes to the legislation.

That is a huge problem with Bill C-32. The Conservatives might say that under the World Intellectual Property Organization agreement this is something that is necessary. While those things need to be considered given that commitment, other countries have taken different approaches. So there are alternative ways to deal with this, rather than this reliance on digital locks. That is something that must be discussed further at the committee and could be a deal breaker in terms of the legislation.

Another serious problem with the bill is that a number of previous revenue streams for artists' organizations appear to be undermined through exemptions and changes. The most noticeable one is the government's decision not to extend the private copying levy on CDs to music playing devices. This is a very serious problem. The whole question of how we respond, how we monetize, how we make sure that artists are remunerated for the work they do, given the changing technology, and how we make sure that there is money going into creators' pockets, given these new technologies, is something that we have struggled with for over a century.

Earlier today the NDP's Canadian heritage critic, our spokesperson on this issue, went through the whole history of how that worked from the last century, starting with John Philip Sousa denouncing the threat of mechanical music, the roller piano. He said the technology would destroy the livelihood of American musicians. Music publishers, people who publish sheet music, were similarly concerned about the introduction of the record player. They thought that would mean the end of artists being effectively or appropriately remunerated for their work.

The radio was new technology and it was thought that it too would end the ability of creators to be properly remunerated for their work. But we found ways through all of those issues, and that brings us up to today. So the scenario has not changed, and the need for creativity continues as well.

Here in Canada, when we were faced with the situation of artists losing remuneration because of people copying their works onto blank cassettes and blank CDs to make mixed tapes, and so on, they were not being compensated. Artists were not being compensated, and that was a serious issue in terms of their incomes. We found a made-in-Canada solution, which was to introduce a levy on blank cassettes and CDs, a levy that is paid to a copyright collective and then paid to creators, to artists. It has been hugely successful in Canada and has been very important to creators in terms of maintaining their income and ensuring that they were properly compensated for their work.

That continues to be an important approach that has broad support. I know New Democrats have consistently said this is something that we should be considering today as well, extending that levy to music playing devices such as iPods and MP3 players so that artists could be compensated appropriately for the works that are transferred onto those devices.

There is support for this among creators as well. Alain Pineau, the national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts, has said that the bill's failure to extend copyright collectives into the digital area is a huge problem and that it bypasses that solution in favour of lawsuits.

If we had the choice of engaging a system that we worked out and developed here in Canada, which has been hugely successful, which has met the goals of ensuring that artists and creators are properly remunerated for their work, if we had the choice between that and forcing creators and publishers into court against consumers, the choice for me is absolutely clear that the levy is the way to go.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives have politicized the conversation about the levy. They have talked about it as if it were a tax. It is not a tax. It is a levy that is directed for a specific purpose, and I think it is a purpose that Canadians can support.

I think Canadians want to make sure that artists are appropriately compensated for their work and that they make an appropriate living from the important work they do from which we all benefit. I think that is something that Canadians would get behind.

It is a system that is in place; it is not a novel idea. It is a system that was criticized when it was first brought in, but I think that criticism died down when the fairness of the system became widely apparent.

That is another very serious problem with this legislation. We want to make sure that there is a system of copyright based on the principles of fair compensation for creators and artists and access to consumers. Those are very appropriate and needed principles. Remuneration of artists and creators for their work is crucial to the ongoing cultural viability of Canada and to the Canadian cultural sector.

Access is crucial for people in Canada who enjoy the work of creators and artists. I do not think that criminalizing consumers, putting the emphasis on finding ways to go after people who violate copyright, is the way to go. It takes its inspiration from the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which we know has been a huge failure in a number of cases.

We have seen in the United States where children, parents and others have been sued, usually by large recording companies, for the violation of copyright, in a way that I think any reasonable person would see as unfair and inappropriate. This aspect of the American legislation is something that I hope we would not be copying in Canada. We should put a digital lock on that idea because it is just not appropriate for use here, especially when we have a solution that we created in this country and has served us well.

New Democrats also support the idea of collective licensing. We support fair access for educational materials, and in this bill there is a very troubling provision that digital lessons for long-distance learning would have to be destroyed within 30 days of the end of the course. This would treat students in digital learning environments as second-class citizens and undermine the potential of new learning opportunities.

My colleague has likened this provision to book burning. Requiring the destruction of those course materials within a time period at the end of the course really goes against the kind of freedom of intellectual inquiry that we want to stimulate in Canada. It amounts to a digital equivalent of book burning, hardly something that we want to be encouraging in an educational setting.

As well, the requirement that teachers would have to destroy lesson plans, as contained in clause 27 of this legislation, is extremely troubling. We want to encourage people to use distance education as a way of upgrading skills and getting the education and training they require, but we also want to make sure they have access to the materials they need to gain that education. Sometimes those materials are required for ongoing purposes. Clause 27 of this bill is a very serious issue in that it requires the destruction of course materials and lesson plans. Certainly it will be something that we will raise as best we can in the coming discussions.

There is much that we have to talk about on this issue of copyright legislation. We tried and we are here again debating it in the House of Commons after a number of ill-fated attempts. I am not sure that we have found the right legislation yet, but the New Democrats are here to participate in that debate and work to see if we can improve the legislation. Hopefully that is possible, but if not, we may have to make other decisions on it.

We want to work with everyone on whom this legislation would have an impact, to see if we can find an appropriate copyright regime for Canada for the 21st century and for a time of changing technology.

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1:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, who I think raised a number of serious issues in terms of copyright reform and some of the fundamental problems that still remain with this bill.

I think it is important to put into the context that some of today's most respectable corporate interests in terms of defending copyright and defending the rights holders were, yesterday and the day before, some of our most famous pirates. Using Hollywood as an example, most people think Hollywood was set up because they had nice weather year round.

In fact, Hollywood was set up to escape the copyright patents of Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison set up the original motion picture film technology and he used his copyright patents to snuff out any competing business. He was quite ruthless in using the courts to go after anybody who was attempting to set up movie theatres back in the early days.

A number of independent producers, who were the BitTorrents of the day, went out west where they were just slightly beyond the long arm of Thomas Edison's corporate reach and they set up Hollywood. Then, of course, once Hollywood had gathered up enough power, it decided to challenge the Edison monopoly in court. Then Hollywood became the standard.

We can remember in the 1970s and 1980s when the VHS recorder came along. Jack Valenti, who was the long-time spokesman of the movie industry, the way Charlton Heston is for the NRA, said that the VHS technology was the “Boston Strangler” that would destroy artists, because if people were allowed to watch movies on VHS recorders, it would destroy the entire business model on which Hollywood was founded.

Of course, at the time, what was one of the private companies that was supporting the VHS? It was Sony. Sony had a big market to sell the VHS players. Sony was being denounced by the Jack Valentis of Hollywood. Hollywood was saying that it would be the end of its business model.

Of course, we know that Hollywood survived and grew because it created a whole new market in the sale of what was VHS, and then DVDs.

I would ask my hon. colleague why he thinks the government continues to be afraid of new technologies and uses digital locks to shut down developing business models.

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1:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I always have trouble determining the motivation of the Conservative government, so I am not sure I have a good answer to that.

It strikes me that the governments in this country have been struggling with how to proceed on this. I think part of it is their inability to think creatively and go out on their own. They have been unwilling to think about what is best for Canada and what is best for Canadians. They have been unwilling to look at the models that have been developed here in this country to find our own solutions within the kinds of international agreements and the kind of technological environment we have.

We have done that in the past. We did that with the levy on blank CDs and disks. So why we cannot apply that same kind of spirit to the overall copyright regime is beyond me.

It seems to me that we have relied too heavily on the American example. We wanted to go their route and when we could not get away with that in this country, we fell into this confusion about where to go.

We have seen the doom and gloom predictions for many years with each technology. It seemed too complicated to know what to do, yet somehow people have figured out that there is a way to both ensure the rights of consumers and ensure that artists are properly remunerated.

I do not think we are beyond finding that solution in this day and age. There are lots of folks who believe that the digital lock changes are not the appropriate way to go. The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright has weighed in on that issue. The Retail Council of Canada, universities, booksellers and the Canadian Library Association have all raised concerns about the dependence on digital locks.

I think there is a way through this. I hope we can find it in this Parliament.

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1:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on something my hon. colleague mentioned earlier; it is one of the most troubling aspects of the bill. There is a whole sleight of hand here, a set of provisions that we will never be able to exercise, promises of consumer rights that will be taken away by the digital locks.

There is one provision that stands out in clause 27, under which it would be legal to make a lesson for digital learning. People in isolated first nations communities in the north, and small communities across rural Canada who want to improve their education, would have legal access to digital learning. However, after 30 days their class notes would have to be destroyed. It is the equivalent of book-burning in the modern age.

It staggers the imagination that the government's approach to digital learning in a region as vast as Canada, where many people are spread out and in need of opportunities for education and cultural development, would shackle students and teachers engaged in long-distance learning with a provision that would require class notes to be burned or destroyed through digital locks after 30 days.

In effect, it creates two tiers of students in this country: those who sit in classrooms and receive photocopies that they get to keep; and those who live in remote areas of Canada. These last, when they attempt to improve their educational opportunities, are told by the Conservative government that their ability to get an education is a threat to a corporate business model that has never even been explained. Does my hon. colleague think that the only reasonable thing to do is take a big red pen, strike that section out, and “mark it zero, Donny” because the government has gone over the line?

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1:35 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague will be participating in the ongoing discussions on this legislation, and I am sure he has his big red pen handy for clause 27. It is one of the worst aspects of this legislation. It would require students to get rid of any class notes or lesson plans after 30 days. It is difficult to understand why such a thing would be part of the copyright regime.

It is a smack in the face to long-distance education, which has made huge advances. The possibilities have increased dramatically with the Internet. It makes more things possible for students who do not have access to urban educational institutions. Limiting the ability of our citizens to take advantage of the technology does not make sense. It is beyond me why this would be in the legislation. To require students and teachers to get rid of their class materials after a short deadline is not sensible at all.

We are also concerned that similar punitive measures could be brought to bear against librarians handling digital inter-library loans, which, under this legislation, would have to be destroyed after five days. This is something that needs to be examined; it probably should not be in the legislation. It discourages folks from accessing the kind of information, education, and training that would allow them to reach their goals, contribute to their communities, earn their livings, and contribute to their families' income. None of these things will assist people to do that.