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

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

November 2nd, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer to the member for Winnipeg Centre was entirely wrong. In fact, I wrote the minister a letter asking him to split that bill so that initial payments could be made quickly and the minister did not even have the courtesy to answer the letter so that the money could have went out to primary producers quickly.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am afraid I did not hear anything about a point of order. It was a matter of debate. I am sure if the hon. member wants to ask further questions on this tomorrow, he can do so, but it is not a procedural matter, unfortunately, from his perspective, and I am sure he knew that.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

When this matter was last before the House, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster's time had expired, but there are 10 minutes remaining for questions and comments consequent upon the hon. member's speech. I therefore call for questions and comments.

The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

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3:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I will begin my questioning in general terms about the speech the hon. member made regarding copyright legislation. As he referred to, there have been many forms of this in the past little while: Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 that provided a lot of input from stakeholders.

I know he wants the bill to go to committee but once it gets to the committee process, what are the most fundamental changes that he would like to push forward in regard to Bill C-32? Would it be the digital measures that we talked about? I know he talked a lot about the educational exemption. I wonder if he could expand on that and how he proposes to change that once it goes to a special legislative committee.

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3:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the elements that I talked about in my speech will be brought forward by our critic, the first digital affairs critic in the history of Parliament, the member for Timmins—James Bay. One element deals with the issue of the retroactive book burning that we talked about earlier, the 30-day requirement for educational institutions and students to burn their books. The legislation states that they “destroy any fixation of the lesson within 30 days of getting their final course evaluations”. How do we spread learning when teachers and students must destroy the material that has just been taught? That is a key element.

Another element is the provisions around the digital lock that override every other exception or exemption within the act. They are just foolish provisions, which is why we call them the “torches and pitchforks” provisions of this bill. In its ineptness, the government, prodded by the NDP to take some initial action, has added elements that clearly contradict what a progressive copyright legislation should entail.

The final element is around the whole issue of the levy for artists and expanding it to new technologies. This levy has been a good Canadian compromise over the years and ensures that small artists have access to some remuneration for their intellectual property, their music and a wide range of talents that they are applying.The current bill would simply allow larger corporations to enforce their rights. This does not help ordinary artists.

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3:05 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the in-depth analysis my hon. colleague has given us with regard to the bill and the problematic areas that if we do not get it right what it will mean for the artists.

We have a variety of artists in my riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing. Manitoulin has an abundance of artists, as does Hearst and across the riding and even in Wawa.

Would my colleague like to elaborate a little more with regard to why it is so important for us to get this right and to ensure that the bill will not be passed in its current form?

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3:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing for her great work on this issue and on all the other issues that she takes on in the House of Commons. She is one of the bright lights of the class of 2008, a new member of Parliament, who shows incredible experience and depth to everything she brings to the House of Commons. We expect great things from her, as she is doing in the present, in the future.

I want to follow up on her question around artists. The bill would allow the big corporations, the folks who do not need the protection, to basically use a pitchfork against consumers. I mentioned that with the digital locks. The NDP offered what was the essential compromise to expand the levy to ensure that new technologies would be included, such as musical players and recorders, and that would allow the levy to come back to small artists. We are talking about a very small amount but, with the sales in the millions, that amount makes a difference between an artist making a living or being literally a starving artist.

Two major newspapers commented on this levy. The first one, the Edmonton Journal, said that the NDP offered a perfectly reasonable compromise and that the Industry minister misrepresented the contents of the NDP's bill, on a bill that is thoughtful and “upholds the basic Canadian values of straight dealing”.

The National Post, which is certainly not a friend of the NDP, as it takes largely a right wing orientation on news, but the National Post said that “the government's nonsensical, 'Boo! Hiss! No new taxes!' response … is just dumb”.

Those are some of the things that daily newspapers have said about how the Conservatives reacted to what was a sensible compromise put forward by the NDP that would have allowed not only the consumers to access the material, the information and the music of Canadian artists, but would have also allowed Canadian artists to continue to make a living and contribute to Canada in the way that they do so effectively.

As usual, the NDP is bringing very thoughtful ideas to the House of Commons and will continue to push the government to end its ineptitude and to put into the bill some of the provisions that would actually guarantee balance on copyright.

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3:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am reticent to do this because sometimes we ask questions and we get put into a certain category as to our opinion, but I do not hear a lot of questions or debate coming from the government side of the House, so maybe I will provide a bit of discussion back and forth.

On the digital lock situation, a lot of people are in favour of locking certain material that they have, such as artists who create music, CDs or movies. When it comes to that, I understand what the member is saying because I, too, am trepidatious about that. I believe the member described it as a digital pitchfork. What bothers me about it is that we have a certain company taking a certain artist's material and distributing it only through its platforms, which, for the consumer, is not a lot of choice. It sort of confines the person. The balance is questionable there.

What about gaming software, which is a growing industry in this country? We have a couple major companies, one being Egosoft. These companies are in a situation where they invest a lot of money in developing the actual material as well as developing the platform. Would they have a case by saying that not circumventing digital locks is the way to go especially for them?

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3:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member's question does not address the issue. I think all of us would support digital locks on certain types of intellectual property. The problem is, the exceptions that we and many groups have been calling for, largely on educational grounds, are pitchforked by this infamous paragraph 41.1(a), which says that no person shall circumvent a technological protection measure. That is the problem.

I must tell the hon. member that there is no exception, no exemption. What it says is that we cannot break a digital law for any reason. The government puts in exceptions and exemptions and then covers it all over with an infamous clause that pitchforks the very exceptions and exemptions that are supposed to exist for educational and personal reasons.

There is the rub. There is the problem. The government, in its ineptitude, was unable to balance the needs of artists to get appropriate remuneration with the needs of consumers to access intellectual property. What we have is a block surrounding digital locks. That is the pitchfork. Then we have the book burning, the torches, that come from the destruction of educational material after 30 days.

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3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the importance of this bill on modernizing copyrights. As a member of Parliament, I have spent a number of years working with my colleagues from all the parties to ensure that our country can support authors and copyright owners. That is an important principle.

We are at second reading of Bill C-32, which the government wants to move forward. This is not the first time we have seen such a bill. Before 2008, the government at the time introduced Bills C-60 and C-61, but they did not make it through. It is not true that these bills had a number of flaws and problems.

We are here today to talk about the importance of a bill that recognizes the changes going on in the increasingly technological world we live in.

The purpose of this bill is to modernize the Copyright Act to bring it in line with the digital age. I must mention some of the important changes that are being proposed. There are changes that would authorize individuals to make copies for personal use, such as recording television shows or transferring music onto an iPod or computer. There are also new rules that would make it illegal for individuals to circumvent a digital lock or a technological protection measure.

Furthermore, the bill gives new responsibilities to Internet service providers, which will have to inform copyright owners of a potential infringement of the copyright. As a party, we note the new exceptions regarding fair dealing for educational uses, for parody or for satire that are included in this bill.

Canada is definitely in the midst of a digital transformation. The dawning of the digital economy is upon us and it will no doubt have, and has had, profound impact on industries, especially our cultural industries.

It is clear that our aging copyright laws have received significant international criticism, which is not to be underestimated. The longer we remain behind in global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. This initiative brings into play our international relations as well as the interests of consumers.

There are obviously a lot of ideas about what is in the best interests of consumers, and this is going to require serious attention in committee, where informed, serious debate will be held with a number of stakeholders, and all points of view will get a clear hearing.

We have all received significant lobbying from individuals, interested parties, stakeholders, and experts in this field. I appreciate these interventions because they are significant. This legislation and the work that we conduct in committee will, I hope, do justice to the attempts by many people to bring forth a better copyright law here in Canada.

A number of concerns were expressed by my colleagues prior to my taking the floor. Because of time considerations, I will not repeat them. Rather, I will focus on areas that my party and I believe are extremely important.

This is not a new issue for me as a member of Parliament. For a number of years, going back to 2006-07, I attempted to bring together an all-party copyright committee that would look at these issues.

I sat on the industry committee, where I am still a member, when we issued two reports on copyright, contraband, and other issues that were important to manufacturing and the evolution of technology, which we viewed in a context of modernizing our economic instruments.

Digital lock provisions allow Canadians who have legitimately purchased a CD or DVD or other products to transfer their purchase to their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long, and I think this is the caveat, as they are not doing so for the purpose of sale or transfer to others.

That is what the legislation is looking to do. It distinguishes private personal use and commercialization. In some areas, a simple firewall can be established, but it is not clear and it becomes more clouded when we are dealing with new technologies and new electronics.

Many artists, many songwriters, many creators of art have expressed deep concern and substantial reservations about issues such as the new education provisions in this copyright legislation. They are concerned about mashups, statutory damages, and compensation for resale rights. While we have deep reservations, we will support this bill's going to committee and look for an opportunity to address the many concerns that have been brought forward.

We know the question of copyright is fundamental. It is important and must be treated with the same degree of seriousness that the public always expects from Parliament in enabling and modernizing legislation.

I explained earlier that Canada's shift to a digital economy has huge spinoffs for our cultural industries. I also mentioned that our copyright laws have been criticized internationally and that the more we drag our feet on global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. We have obviously taken into consideration the fact that numerous artists, writers and creators have also expressed serious concerns about certain points, such as the new provisions concerning education, mashup applications, statutory damages and payment for resale rights. Despite these concerns, we are trying to make sure that this bill makes it to committee, where much more work can be done.

Since it was tabled, this bill has received staunch support and strong opposition from various stakeholders. The Liberal Party obviously supports modernization. However, concerns have been raised about numerous areas. The first is whether digital locks should take precedence over every other right to copy. The bill we are debating today, Bill C-32, provides for new rights authorizing Canadians to make copies for personal use, including format shifting—transferring content to a CD or iPod—as well as time shifting and making backup copies. The new provisions concerning digital locks take precedence over these rights. In other words, under the new law, a person who buys a CD that has had a digital lock on it cannot circumvent that lock to transfer the content to an iPod without breaking the law. Obviously this has given rise to some discussion. It is an extremely controversial point that was already contested when the Conservatives introduced their previous copyright bill, Bill C-61.

As a party, we obviously have concerns. As well, consumers have been passionate about sharing their fears about the digital lock provisions. We listened to these fears and we will listen to them again.

Other areas we would look at in Bill C-32 would be education. It has been mentioned here before, but the legislation introduces exemptions for copying, meaning teachers and institutions of higher learning. Education can now make copies of some work for education purposes and not infringe on copyright.

Broadly, the bill would implement two major changes. It would introduce making copies for education purposes as an exemption under Canada's fair dealing rules. It would also introduce several specific distance education exceptions to allow for copies used for lessons, communicated to the public through telecommunication for educational or training purposes. That public consists only of students who are enrolled in a course.

I think we can appreciate that there is in fact a growing concern and opposition to broad fair dealing exemption provisions. Writers and publishing groups in particular are very opposed. Fair dealing is so broad that question really becomes, what is in fact defined as fair? The writers and publisher groups believe new exemptions will give teachers and education institutions a veritable blank cheque to make copies of their work and to give it students. They believe teachers and educational institutions ought to compensate creators for their work.

In particular, one of the questions that arises is why private commercial education institutions should be permitted to disseminate works for education purposes without compensating copyright.

I do not need to get into the number of associations and groups that have advocated fair dealing exemption. They have to be taken in the context of the concerns that have been registered by those who freely and rightly create and ask that they be compensated for their work.

There again is another area that falls into what we consider the not so black and white debate about copyright. It is important for us to take and weigh both of these in accordance with the spirit of what the bill tries to achieve.

It would appear that another area we need to look at is the area known technically as mashups, and it is not something one would prepare at a dinner. It is the creation of an exemption for user-generated content where a personal movie is produced using music clips combined with personal video. Then, as some do, it is posted on YouTube.

In our view, this section is too broadly written. Under the rule, individuals can post an entire movie on YouTube as long as they add a small inserted clip at the beginning or the end. Then they can call the video a mashup. It is kind of the exemption given in this kind of circumstance.

We believe the language in this proposed legislation should be tightened to ensure that the mashup exemption cannot unexpectedly create what appears to be a loophole for further copyright infringement.

We are also concerned about the question of statutory damages. I raise this because I have not heard many other members talk about this point. The bill defines a new statutory damage provision of between $100 to $5,000 for all non-commercial infringement copyright.

A number of people to whom I have spoken, and who have come to meet with members of Parliament, have expressed concern about this section and believe applied statutory damages must be commensurate to, equal to and proportional to the severity.

That is an important factor that we must consider at committee. We may have differing opinions as to how these issues are going to be resolved. It would appear that the committee is going to be cast, once again, with having to judge two, or three or several very weighty issues.

The resale of art is also a new issue that has not really had a lot of attention, but it is one that leaves Canadian artists in a position of distinct disadvantage. As members will know, throughout Europe and in some parts of Central and Latin America, artists are rewarded when their works are sold and sold again. Original art increases in value over time and artists feel a share of the increase in value should be returned to them upon resale of their works.

At committee, we may wish to explore the European model or the European experience and see how Canadian artists can be better compensated for their work. Considering the level of interest that has now been brought forward, I am sure this is an area that our party and areas in other jurisdictions will be certainly interested in modelling as well.

It is clear that ephemeral recordings also present concerns for members of Parliament and will concern Canadians. To put that in perspective, currently copyright holders charge broadcasters for format-shifting their works. A simple example of this is a radio station that might purchase a song for broadcast. The current rules require the radio station to pay every time the radio station plays the song but, more important, when it transfers the song on to its computer servers.

As we know, modern radio stations are changing and these are being done in a way that outmodes and makes less necessary the old way of throwing a record on and paying someone at the end of the day. These are done and filed. Broadcasters want to simply pay once. Stations, whenever they play a song, do not want to pay again and again. The format shift, which is taking place will obviously do this time and time again, leaving artists without the traditional revenue stream they could once expect, basically as a result of changes in technology.

The right of copy for format-shifting and transfers is approximately $21 million each year to artists and musicians, creators of the works. Bill C-32 eliminates the ephemeral recording rights in the Copyright Act, eliminating this compensation to creators.

While I sit the industry side of things, we can all appreciate the importance of Canadian culture, Canadian music, Canadian songwriters and the great impact they have made as a result of these kinds of arrangements, constructed in large part by Parliament in previous times. We know the Canadian recording industry is sound and strong. We are very proud of it and we have to do everything we can, in modern times, to ensure it is effectively and equitably safeguarded.

I believe there is the basis in the country for solid rewrite and review of copyright. It is long overdue. Members of Parliament may have differing opinions as to where and how we view effective copyright legislation, but I think we recognize that as the world changes, as technology evolves, so must the panoply of laws and the framework that allows us to change with changing times. That is the pragmatic approach, which the bill will require in order for it to be an effective response to the demands, needs and realities that society, that those in the industry as well as those artists expect.

I am not only looking forward to the questions, but I am looking forward to the opportunity, with some of my colleagues in the House of Commons, to frame and to craft legislation that may meet those expectations. I am not saying that the bill is the be-all and end-all. It is a very important step and the first step in the right direction. It has a long way to go, but it is nevertheless a critical and very important and timely step.

I look forward to Parliament approving second reading and getting this to committee where the experts then have their work cut out for them. We can hear from Canadians and meet those expectations.

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3:35 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Pickering—Scarborough East for his work on copyright over the years and also IP protection. He spearheaded an all-party effort as we dealt with knock-offs, everything from the products developed to go in to the airline industry, to the hospitals, circuit breakers, a series of things. We looked at the consequences of those who stole those ideas and designs that affected everyone else. He has done a commendable job on that issue.

On this issue, I have a concern with regard to students, and I would like to hear his response to it. One thing suggested in the bill is if students purchase lessons, they have to destroy them within a certain time period after the completion of the lesson. I am of the view that is pretty harsh on students. They should be allowed to purchase that information and keep it.

In the past, although my French language skills are poor at best, and I have tried many times, I have purchased programs and gone to some different classes for that. I was able to keep the material to reference later on. Taking away what we have purchased is not fair if we use it the way it was supposed to be and do not produce it for others or share it them. If we own it, we own it and we should be able to maintain it.

Could the member share his views on that? There are a few learning issues related to the copyright bill that need some attention. I do not think it is balanced for those issues just yet.

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3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, I know the hon. member was an early advocate for changes to ensure that we had copyright legislation and protection, particularly as it related to products that were counterfeit, to ensure they both met the safety standards and did not compromise the quality of Canadian workmanship, which is at the core of his riding. When we visited his riding in 2007, we had heard very clearly about how many Windsorites were losing their jobs as a result of knock-offs and bogus products being made. The member brought those very much to our attention and were part of the unanimous report on manufacturing.

He also raises today a very interesting point. When we are required, after a certain period of time, to destroy information, particularly if it is for students or for educational purposes, it conjures up images of the show Mission Impossible in the 1960s, where the tape would self-destruct in five seconds.

We have to find the balance on both the rights of those who produce these products and those who purchase them. There has to be a reasonable person test applied here. One would use that in the vernacular as common sense, something that we would certainly want to prevail.

However, the hon. member has raised an area that really speaks to the need to ensure that we have on that committee members of Parliament who have at least some background and some skill at discerning, through their own experiences, what appears to be unintended effects and unintended consequences.

I support the hon. member's concern as somebody who has seen this kind of thing being inserted, I am sure unintentionally. What he has raised is an example of what are many problems along the way. It is a good document, but it has troubles and it will require some severe amendments.

I would support the member's concern. I thank him for raising that because I am sure I will be hearing from him on the committee very shortly.

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, as mentioned earlier, my colleague's wealth and breadth of knowledge on copyright is certainly respected throughout this House. He is one of the leading experts in the House on all matters with regard to copyright. His opinions on these issues are certainly well respected.

We obviously agree that the creators have to be recognized and compensated. Writers must be paid. With the current method, a writer would pick up about 10% of the cover price of a book and the other 90% would go into such things as publication, advertising and distribution. A lot of writers realize the greater portion of their incomes from licensing agreements and collective licences through the various education systems. It has been a system that has worked fairly well. Teachers and students are able to reproduce some works, and there seems to be a degree of balance.

My concern is that with the new provisions under this bill, for anything that is deemed educational, anybody from a university professor to a golf pro who would be able to reproduce work. There should be some concerns around that. How does my colleague anticipate building a fence around that? How does he anticipate containing that as we go forward?

Where are there going to be assurances that the creators, the writers who are so essential to the whole process, are protected, recognized and compensated for their works?

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso has raised a very important and delicate area.

I believe that this legislation, despite its best intentions, was not drafted very well. It will probably create a number of objections in loose, unclear or awkward wording which might pit one group against another. That certainly should not be the intention. What we have to do is agree on a formal set of principles that we want enunciated here.

We do not want a situation where the minister talks about going after people who are infringers or, to use other terminology, wealth inhibitors and yet does not really take into consideration the absolute destruction and devastation that might ensue. BitTorrent or other companies that I have been made familiar with over the past little while, such as isoHunt, might be able to hide behind poorly drafted legislation.

The hon. member talked about the need to compensate authors and those who have created novel, new ideas, whether that be the outward expression in terms of their artistry, or songs, or art itself. It seems to me that we have to find the balance between those who have created and expect compensation for that creation and those who will use it for purposes that are not commercial.

In the case of education, we have to resolve once and for all the issue of institutions which use and disseminate information but do not pay. Perhaps we should be looking at another facility, and the existing one of the Copyright Board was used many years ago, to ensure there is some recognition for the use of material that takes into consideration the balance of disseminating information while at the same time ensuring that those who have provided information, innovation, ideas or thought are also appropriately compensated for the work they are doing.

This is not going to be an easy process. If the bill is not precise, loose language often leads to terrible and unforeseen consequences. The expertise of members on the committee is going to be so crucial, because there are a lot of problems with this bill, but it is a step, as I have said earlier, in the right direction.

The hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso has raised a number of very important critical concerns that go to the core of why the legislation as it currently stands needs to take into consideration some very important principles. I share with the member the concern that we have a long way to go.