House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was artists.

Topics

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville may ask a brief question.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be brief. We know that the average income of artists in Canada is quite low—less than $13,000 a year. It seems to me we should be helping these artists, encouraging them and trying to increase their income a bit.

I would like the hon. member to say a few words about this bill to explain how it is contrary to what we should be doing and how we can help these artists.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. The hon. member talked about a sum of $13,000 a year, but that was just the average. There is an artist named Céline Dion who earns more than $1 billion. It is her salary that raises the average because 80% of artists earn less than $10,000 a year. That is the problem.

How can we help them? We can create a separate fund. There are a number of ways to do so. We can work together. We have already held a number of meetings during the last Parliament. We can help bring the new parliamentarians up to speed. There are a great number of ways to help artists. They do enough lobbying. We all know artists. We are here for them.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, as we know, copyright is a complicated issue and features competing demands from different stakeholders. We have artistic, academic, business, technology and consumer rights that we need to balance.

I am pleased to speak to this bill because just a few years ago I did not actually know very much about copyright. I was invited to participate in a panel discussion and a movie viewing. I was invited by some Dalhousie law students and some Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, or NSCAD, students, law students and art students working together to shed some light on the issue of copyright.

They had a screening of RiP, a remix manifesto, which is a great Canadian documentary featuring the artist Girl Talk. Girl Talk does a lot of work doing mash-ups, putting different songs together to create a completely new song. There is a big question around whether Girl Talk actually violates copyright law. I threatened to do a mash-up in the House today but I will leave that to Girl Talk.

However, I thank the students at Dalhousie and NSCAD for holding that panel because it enlightened me on the issue of copyright and made me realize how important an issue it is to the riding of Halifax, as well as across Canada.

This bill, as we know, was brought forward in the last Parliament as Bill C-32. Despite a lot of feedback from stakeholders and community organizations that the bill did not strike the right balance, it has been reintroduced and it is exactly the same bill as before. The NDP believes that copyright legislation needs to be modernized and that it is long overdue, but this bill has a lot of errors, some glaring omissions and, in certain cases, it actually creates problems where none existed before. The NDP will work to try to amend this bill to ensure it reflects the best interests of Canadians.

The NDP believes that copyright laws in Canada can balance the rights of creators and their right to be fairly compensated for their work, and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to copyrighted materials. We will look for all possible amendments. This is what committee is for. It is to bring people forward, talk about what the solutions are and to look at amendments. We will look at all possible amendments to the bill that will create a fair royalty system for creators because, as it stands, this bill would wipe away millions of dollars in revenues for artists.

As I mentioned, the constituents of Halifax have a lot at stake with this bill. First, there is a very high student population in Halifax. Students are the creators and owners of copyrighted material in their articles, essays and works of art, but, at the same time, they are also consumers. In order to study and learn, students need access to the copyrighted works of others.

I met with the Canadian Federation of Students and it pointed out that this three part perspective of use, creation and ownership of copyright gives students special credibility when it comes to the struggle for fair and balanced copyright law. I met with CFS representatives and they have reinforced to me how much any copyright reform needs to strike that balance. It needs to be fair and balanced.

With so many students in my riding, it follows that we have libraries. We have law libraries, medical libraries, archives, university and college libraries and public libraries. I have met with many librarians and they have told me that they need balance. If we are looking at this issue, no matter where in Nova Scotia or Canada we are, balance is needed. Most of the librarians I have spoken to have pointed out the fact that this legislation does not get the balance right, especially when it comes to digital locks.

As we have heard in the House, the bill would create powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners. I want to take a second to point out that I said “content owners”. That does not necessarily mean creators or artists. It means owners. Often the owners are not the creators or the artists themselves.

The rights for owners prevent access to copyrighted works and they can be backed with fines of up to $1 million and five years in jail. That would create a situation where digital locks could actually supersede all other rights, including charter rights. If we look at people being able to modify the way they can see material because they have a visual impairment, that penalty would impact someone who has an actual charter right to view this material, which is not what anyone would intend to happen.

What does this mean? It means there is a very real danger for consumers that they could be prohibited from using content that they have already paid for. Sometimes the format just needs to be changed. It has already been paid for. There should not be anything wrong with that.

The legislation is really important to people in Halifax because my community is rich with artists and creators. We are home to movie and television studios. We have video game developers, song writers and playwrights, authors, designers, sculptors and dancers. It is really incredible to think that there could be that much talent in one small city, but we are a hub of creativity and innovation.

In being elected by those people, I have been sent to the House to protect their rights, to protect their ownership interests in their creations and to stand up for fair compensation for their work. We will bring forward all possible amendments to the bill to create a fair royalty system for artists because, as the bill stands now, it would wipe away millions of dollars in potential revenue for artists.

The bill would grant a range of new access privileges but it would not increase opportunities for remuneration for artists. This new playing field would profoundly affect the ability of artists to survive, something that all of us have seen first-hand in our ridings. Artists and creators make our communities worth living in. They deserve access to fair compensation opportunities for their work. Without those opportunities, we risk destroying our creative communities altogether.

In the bill, there is a long and complicated list of exceptions, and I do not think it adequately recognizes creators' rights. In fact, it would create new ways for consumers to access copyrighted content. We talk about balance and we are creating new ways but at the same time we are not providing new avenues to remunerate creators for their work.

The no compromise provisions in the bill would provide sweeping powers to rights holders that would supersede all other rights. If enacted, the bill would ensure that artists could not access their work despite the fact that they own it. In the example that has been shared with me, if people are studying abroad or doing long distance education they cannot keep those materials. I would go so far as to say that it is draconian and inappropriate to ask people to destroy class notes within 30 days of the course ending. This is knowledge they have learned. They have paid for this material. It seems absurd that they would need to destroy them at the end of the course.

What are the propositions? We really need to come together at committee and hear from people who are impacted by this legislation. There is a lot of opportunity to do some very good work and modernize the bill while balancing the rights of creators and the public.

I look forward to the bill getting to committee to see what happens. I am very hopeful that the Conservatives are listening and that they will take feedback into account and work with the NDP to bring forward good, solid amendments that will benefit everyone.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is right, and, hopefully, once we defeat the Liberal motion, we will have an opportunity to bring the bill before committee to hear some more witness testimony. As I said in earlier comments, we have heard testimony from a vast array of people.

Graham Henderson of Music Canada said, we are “pleased to see long overdue copyright reform legislation back on the...agenda and a strong commitment to get it passed”.

The Canadian Publishers' Council said that the government was demonstrating “a clear understanding of the need to amend the current Copyright Act to bring it more in line with our times”. It strikes me that much of this bill would do just that. It would bring our legislation in line with copyright legislation around the world.

Jurisdictions around the world talk a lot about digital locks, or technical protection measures. However, in jurisdictions around the world where TPMs are protected there is actually more content available. That can protect artists but they need to ensure that consumers have access to a vast array of products.

It is frustrating to hear yet again another NDP speaker talk about the only solution for Canadian artists and Canadians is to tax them more and that will solve all the problems.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, my colleague pointed out that committee provides the opportunity to hear from stakeholders and from people in the community about the pluses and minuses, the good points and bad points. He also pointed out that, the last time the bill came around, the committee heard from all types of people from around Canada who gave feedback about this legislation. So, why is the bill exactly the same as last time?

If we really care about feedback from Canadians, if we really are listening to them, why would the bill be exactly the same as last time? I hope that this time the Conservatives actually listen.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I fail to understand why we, as legislators, are constantly pitting consumers against creators.

As a consumer of music or any other art form, I would like to be able to buy a work and know for sure that the creator who produced it was compensated.

From what I understand of the current bill—and I would like clarification from the hon. member on this—if we pass it in its current form, the coming weeks will have to be spent creating fair trade music and fair trade art, like the fair trade coffee and chocolate we get from developing countries. It does not seem to me that we are going completely in the right direction.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his observation that so often the government is not actually looking out for creators.

If we look critically at this legislation, we can see that it would protect owners. As I said in my speech, owners are not necessarily creators, owners are not necessarily artists and owners are not necessarily users. They are publishers. They are music companies. They are industry.

This is one-sided legislation where the rights of owners would be protected but everybody else would be left out in the cold.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Madam Speaker, I can tell the member who we are looking out for. This party will always stand up and look out for consumers across this country.

One of the opposition amendments is to place an iPod tax on MP3 players, on telephones and on other pieces of technology that actually play some of the music that is downloaded illegally.

I would first congratulate the member for Halifax and all Nova Scotians for the Halifax Irving Shipyard's winning bid this week. It is a tremendous opportunity, of course.

What will the member do for consumers in her riding, particularly single parents trying to buy Christmas presents for their children?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his congratulations and extend them to him because a lot of the shipbuilders live in his riding.

With respect to representing consumers, I will not send them to jail for five years and I will not fine them $1 million because they may have made a mistake or tried to bust a digital lock on something that they actually already own.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

October 21st, 2011 / 1:25 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Madam Speaker, there have been consultations on this travel motion and if you seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That in relation to its study of drugs and alcohol in prison, 12 members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security be authorized to travel to Kingston, Ontario, and environs on Tuesday, October 25, 2011, and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.