House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

In fact, this bill is extremely complex and technical. That is why we have identified a number of weaknesses. The one relating to the destruction of materials, of course notes, after 30 days is a striking problem, but the main problem I see in this bill is the lost income for authors, creators and artisans. At the end of the day, if we are not able to protect that drive to create—and that is what the objective of the Copyright Act should be—then that will present a problem. The same will be true if we do not find ways to modernize the law and at the same time adapt the flow of income that creators are able to receive. That is what was done in the past when new media were developed, when we saw, first, the vinyl record. Then we got CDs, DVDs and so on. We managed to adapt the flow of income to these new facts of life, one way or another. This bill does not do that. In fact, this bill could interfere with those sources of income by jeopardizing the income of artisans, creators and artists; it could be a disincentive to that flow of creativity and diminish creators’ ability to disseminate Quebec and Canadian content on a large scale.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague on his very informative speech.

My question for him is this: if we wanted to keep the title of the bill as is, a bill to modernize copyright, what are some of the main amendments he would propose?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question.

Hopefully, that kind of discussion would take place in committee. The committee members could propose various paths. Coming back to an academic perspective, I think measures to protect Quebec's book market would be necessary, particularly for professional books and text books. This has been done in the past. In a university, books and other materials can be photocopied, but this is done with dividends through various organizations that can then pass them on to the authors. In the case of new materials and new possible ways of offering courses, we need to be able to adapt and allow some flexibility, while still ensuring a dividend. This bill contains 40 exceptions, where content can be used without any compensation to authors. This must be changed. There must be a mechanism to allow these dividends to make their way to the artists so that they will be encouraged to continue their creative process.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, this speech is in line with my previous speeches and came about as a result of my thoughts on whether the current government is truly willing to protect and promote the public interest.

The purpose of the bill before us is basically to replace the current Copyright Act. Those present in the House all agree that this is necessary. Social and technological realities are, by definition, constantly changing and it is important to have legislative tools adapted to the current global economy, in which massive amounts of information are constantly being transferred electronically.

Both sides admit that the letter of the Copyright Act must indeed be modernized; however, the text of the bill proposed by the Conservatives does not address a number of key issues. As a result, the proposed solution could prove to be more risky and problematic than truly innovative and functional.

The opinion of a number of experts on the issue disputes the legitimacy of certain elements and even the adoption of such provisions by the federal legislative body since many issues addressed in the bill actually overlap with areas under provincial jurisdiction.

The legislative exercise must involve weighing the pros and cons. Given that the desired outcome of this exercise is to update a law on so-called progressive materials, the government must support an approach that strikes a balance between the rights of consumers and the rights of content owners.

Taking into account current practices in arts and technology, this bill favours major industry players, the ones that ultimately hold the prerogative power associated with copyright. I will now explain all the concepts associated with licensing and the transfer of ownership.

The agreements binding creators to stakeholders in the arts and culture industry in Canada make systematic use of provisions granting licences or transferring the rights of a creator to the benefit of major industry players. In addition, the real winners of Bill C-11 are the large movie studios and record labels, not Canadian artists and consumers.

Since I come from a family of artists, I was able to witness first-hand the terrible consequences related to the inequality of power that is common in the artistic production sector in its broadest sense.

As an illustration, I will delve into empirical studies by sharing a story about something that happened to my father. My father is an author-composer-performer who speaks Innu almost exclusively. Like me, he comes from the Uashat mak Mani-Utenam community. In the early 1990s, he went to the United States to promote culture and perform.

During his time in the United States, a digital recording was made of his voice while he was singing time-honoured songs from thousands of years ago. Some say that that is in the public domain, but someone made a digital recording of his voice and when he came back to Canada many years later, he was surprised to hear the recording in a major American film, of which millions of copies had been distributed. It was difficult for him to understand how his recording had ended up in a Columbia Pictures film. But nothing came of it and he still has a bad taste in his mouth when he thinks about what happened.

Next I want to talk about sharing. I will talk about the traditional way of looking at information sharing. This link with the sharing of traditional aboriginal knowledge is relevant in analyzing the situation before us. While first nations have thus far had limited recourse to Canadian laws pertaining to intellectual property to protect creations resulting from their traditions, it is recognized that unauthorized copies of works by groups and communities; the appropriation of aboriginal themes and images; artist copyright infringement; culturally inappropriate use of aboriginal images and styles by non-aboriginal creators and the exclusive appropriation of traditional knowledge without compensation are quite common within socially deprived communities.

Now, when I say “appropriation without compensation”, that is a direct reference to the pharmaceutical advance that resulted from traditional knowledge the indigenous people had on the land. When I talk about indigenous people, we may go as far away as New Guinea and Australia, but here in Canada, we know that the pharmaceutical and pharmacological industry has drawn on traditional knowledge on the centuries-old use of plants on the land. Today, there are multitudes of medications that derive from that direct application. There is a recognition, in a sense, of the contribution of the Innu and indigenous people in general, but very few patents, in my opinion, have been issued to the indigenous nations.

It goes without saying that the proposed legislation does not answer any of the considerations raised by the indigenous communities and highlighted in the study entitled “Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights”, prepared by the Parliamentary Research Branch in response to a request in 2004. In addition, the bill to modernize copyright will allow a third party to establish a system of digital locks that will supersede virtually all other rights that may be exercised by the indigenous nations over their ancestral works.

As we can see, the imbalance of power that can be observed in the arts industry gives rise to appalling situations, a reality that has unfortunately eluded the text of the bill. The proposed legislation simply exacerbates the disadvantage the artist is at, for the benefit of recording and movie studios that have enormous resources at their disposal for creating a system of digital locks that will supersede virtually all other rights provided in the legislation. Ultimately, this practice will enable the industry to protect its declining capacity to generate enormous profits.

Regarding the concepts of licence and assignment of rights, these are usual clauses that we see in contracts: the artist is not in a position to bargain since most often they are presented with a standard form contract. The clauses already exist. Assignment is a little rarer, but explicit licences are included and the artist is then bound by them. The artist has very few rights, other than the moral right in respect of the ultimate use made of their work, and they are not in a position to stand up to the armada of lawyers who work for the industry.

The government must therefore amend the provisions relating to digital locks before this bill is passed. Apart from its negative effects on artists’ income expectations, that measure grants exorbitant powers to the rights holders, the players in an already very well-off industry.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for my colleague. How can this legislation, which gives priority to the development of a digital economy, respect the culture and artistic performances of the members of a nation that needs to be respected merely to continue to exist and to have a cultural life?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He will agree with me that social considerations carry very little weight on the other side of this House. This is a pattern that we are going to see in the coming years, namely that those who detain the monetary and economic power will always prevail over those who care about other considerations, whether environmental, cultural or social. The legislation before us today is no exception and it is a reflection of that pattern.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about aboriginal artists. Aboriginal artists and artists from all ethnic backgrounds have a great deal to contribute. Many of those contributions come from their heritage. It is one way we are able to benefit from the rich heritage of many of the communities that make up our beautiful country. I believe it is one of the reasons the government overlooks the importance of those artists. We should encourage that aspect of the industry. We can do a lot more in terms of supporting it.

Would the member give a general observation in terms of what he believes the impact of the bill would be on that industry? Also, would he agree that there is much more that we could be doing for that industry?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. As regards communities, I am always going to refer to my own community, namely the Innu of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam. One should realize that they are not at all familiar with the debates that are taking place in this House, particularly in the case of the current bill.

One should also realize that my community is very distrustful and rather reluctant to share its information and culture, for reasons that are now rather obvious. There have been problems like embezzlement and abuse, whether on a cultural or other level. So, it goes without saying that implementing the measures proposed in this legislation will not improve dialogue, and even less so the sharing because, ultimately, it is the industry that will hold the key and enjoy all the privileges. The artist as such will be pushed aside and will play a very minor role.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

October 18th, 2011 / 5:45 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Manicouagan for his excellent speech in this House.

My question is similar to the one asked by my colleague who spoke before me about the impact of the bill. The situation of aboriginal artists is quite unique. Does this bill take that into account, or have aboriginal artists again been forgotten in this bill to modernize the act?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The text of the bill makes no mention of aboriginal people, contrary to the 2004 study, which was carried out by Parliament. It makes one wonder if people were paying attention. At the time, aboriginal groups pointed out what they needed and wanted. This bill, which updates the Copyright Act, clearly pays very little, if any, attention to the transmittal and protection of ancestral knowledge and the expression of oral culture. We all know that ours is a predominantly oral culture. It is marginalized, as it always has been.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

Copyright legislation, the issue of digital locks and Bill C-32 have accompanied me from the beginning of my political journey a couple of years ago.

I live in a riding that has a large population of post-secondary students, and when I said I was running for the nomination in the riding, many of them wanted to talk to me about Bill C-32 and the concerns they had over the digital lock provisions in that bill. These are students. These are text savvy people. Many of them are the next generation of artists and creators. The bill is important to me.

Copyright is at the heart of how our society treats creators, artists, musicians, and composers. It is very important that we recognize their contribution, that we value what they have created, and the value that it brings to our society.

My brother is one of these people. He is a musician. He is a jazz saxophonist. He teaches for a living. He plays. Sometimes he records. It matters to me a lot that our artists are treated fairly.

However, every time technology changes there is a need to modify copyright law. A very simple example of that is photocopying. When it becomes much easier to copy a book, we have to think about what that means for protecting written material. When it becomes very easy to copy music, we have to think about how to adjust our copyright laws. One thing that has happened in the past to deal with that adjustment is that a levy has been imposed on the sale of cassettes and CDs to compensate artists for the work they have done.

Now we are in an age where technology has changed again, very radically. I am sure that when I was a young person, nobody had on their desks all the things I have: a phone, a couple of computers, and so on. Technology is all around us and we can copy all sorts of digital material from one device to another.

It is very important that the legislation before us is technology neutral. Probably the best way to talk about technology as far as this legislation is concerned is just to ignore all the technology in front of us and just think about all the copies of digital materials in the cloud, on the Internet. We do not even have to think about the hardware in front of us.

It is important to have digital locks, since a lot of copyrighted material, material that is created by our artists, writers, musicians, is in the cloud, but we can improve this legislation as it pertains to digital locks.

The students I met with very early on in my political career were very quick to bring this to my attention, which is that digital locks should not trump the other rights that are being given to consumers in this legislation. Consumers should have the right to buy material and to copy it for their own use. Students should have the ability to have copies of materials so that they can learn.

A really good example of that is something my brother, the musician whom I want to get back to, related to me. I really did not appreciate it, but when he explained it to me, things suddenly became very clear. My brother says that the training, education of musicians today, as compared to, say, 20 years ago, is radically different. The reason why it is radically different is because young musicians today can listen to a lot more music than they could have 20 years ago, a lot more variations of music from around the world.

That is because of the Internet. Not only does the Internet allow a lot of different kinds of music and creative things to be brought to people, but a lot of creative people can communicate what they have created to others around the world through the Internet. This is a tool for the next generation of creators and artists and people who are creating.

This is really something special that has changed how artists, musicians and writers are being trained and educated. They are really able to immerse themselves in what is happening around them and what has been in the past as well.

I think it is very important that we take a bit of time. I hope this happens in committee, if the bill goes to committee. We must be more careful about defining fair dealing and education. I am not so sure what my brother related to me, this training of musicians which is not necessarily in schools and not necessarily in a formal setting, if that is something that would be properly considered in a definition of education.

As far as fair dealing is concerned, there are definitions that we could incorporate into the bill. The Supreme Court has made rulings about what fair dealing means in certain cases and has established certain criteria. These criteria could, I understand, be incorporated into the bill.

That is why in the recent amendment that has been brought forward by my party there are two provisions. One is to first of all uphold the rights of consumers to choose how they enjoy the content that they purchase, to avoid the overly restrictive digital lock provisions that would seem to take away the rights that are being granted consumers in this legislation, which does not make sense. The second is to take some time and write down a clear and strict test for fair dealing for education purposes.

There is a lot of controversy over this legislation. There are people for it and against it, and it is probably because, in my humble opinion, the legislation could be made clearer. Forgive me for throwing out this example, but I often find that in my experience as a scientist, if people disagree about something we should really sit down and look at the numbers and write down the equations, put everything on the table and define the terms more carefully. Often, in the field of science and research a lot of disagreements melt away when definitions are made precise and people look at actual numbers and hard data.

It makes sense to me, from my experience, that if we were to take some time and write down clear definitions of fair dealing and education in the exceptions to the copyright protections in the legislation that we could probably resolve some of the controversy around the legislation.

The third provision in the reasoned amendment is that there are certain streams of revenue that will be affected by this copyright legislation. We should take some time and think about how the streams of revenue will be affected and think about providing transitional funding for artists who adapt to the changes and the loss of some revenue streams that would be caused by the bill.

These are the reasons why the provisions in the reasoned amendment make sense to me. That is why my party and I are supporting this reasoned amendment.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I find the hon. member's proposal kind of interesting. He talks about the amendment like it is just a simple amendment to a bill. This is of course a bill that has been consulted on probably more than just about any bill that I have seen in six years here. There have been thousands and thousands of submissions, 39 hours of committee testimony, and the Liberals today have introduced an amendment that the House decline to give second reading to the bill.

It is not an amendment to make changes to the bill, just an amendment to wipe out the bill altogether, instead of going through the process of continuing the committee hearings that we have had, and hearing from witnesses that have not had a chance to appear yet. The Liberals would just wipe out the 12 years, I think it has been, of consultation on the bill and four different iterations of the bill to this point.

In the interests of co-operating, why would the Liberal Party not just bring forward suggestions for amendments according to the regular process, get those to the committee stage, and put ideas on the table there as opposed to wiping out the bill here today?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I assure the member that Liberals will be proposing amendments. If we wanted to jettison this bill, we would have proposed a hoist motion. The reasoned amendment allows us to specify the reasons why we oppose this bill going to second reading and they are very clear. I read them out before and will not read them again. They explain what is wrong and the sorts of amendments that should be made.

The member talked about all of the testimony that was given. Why did the Conservative government not look at all of that testimony and maybe make a few changes between the legislation that appeared in the last Parliament and Bill C-11 that is before us today? There were no changes made, so I do not believe the government has really paid attention to all of that testimony.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have received a lot of correspondence from constituents about Bill C-11. I received an email from a constituent named Mark Burge, who said what I thought was very thoughtful. He said, “A solution to Bill C-11's contentious core problem and the means to avoid the unintended consequences generated by the broad protection for digital locks is to amend the Bill to permit the circumvention of digital locks when done for lawful purposes. This approach is compliant with the WIPO Internet Treaties, provides legal protection for digital locks, and maintains a much better copyright balance--”.

He urges the House to either add an infringing purpose requirement to the prohibition of circumvention or add an exception to the legislation to address circumvention for lawful purposes. Mr. Burge believes that in addition to linking the prohibition of circumvention to the act of infringement, it is paramount for consumers to have commercial access to the tools required to facilitate such lawful acts.

I am wondering if my hon. colleague would care to comment on what I think are some very thoughtful suggestions from someone who clearly has studied this issue in my riding.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comments, which accord very much with what I have been hearing from my constituents, many of whom understand the need for digital locks but also concede that the digital lock provisions are too stringent. They go beyond the need to protect lawful uses of material. It makes a lot of sense and I hope the member and his party will propose those amendments in committee.