House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Oshawa makes some good, valid points. I think we are getting off the topic of copyright again.

However, before we go on, he is right in the sense that there is a fundamental role for digital locks played in that particular area. As a matter of fact, I think digital locks for the video game industry is a good thing. It is a fundamental concept of protecting the investment to which the member spoke.

The problem is that the digital lock becomes the ultimate machine in the operation, if I can use that term. There are no ways to test, like he burn test, the burn convention test, and the three-step, six-step test, those sorts of thing, that allows, in certain circumstances, such as education, to circumvent that digital lock, the flexibility and freedom of fair dealing. I think that is at the core of it. The points from the member from Oshawa are correct.

Unfortunately, because the digital locks have gone that far it does not give us much flexibility, so the balance that he is seeking here could be worked out with things like a six-step or a three-step test process?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, absolutely. We have been pushing to work with the government, not only on this bill but many other bills, co-operatively to look at solutions and how we can move forward as a country, whether it is on the omnibus bill, the gun registry or the Senate reform.

The NDP has put forward a number of amendments and solutions. We need to have a balanced approach. I would agree with what my colleague has said, that we need to have that balanced approach.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act.

As my colleague said earlier, we believe that changes to the Copyright Act are long overdue and we need to bring Canada up to current standards in the tech industries and to meet industrial standards in other countries.

As we can tell from the debate in the House today, this is an extremely complex issue. There are many interests to be considered and it should not be rushed through. That is why we are saying that the overwhelming message from this side of the House is that we have to take in the interests of all groups when we are moving ahead with such a complex piece of legislation.

The key word that we should focus on is balance. We need to find the right mix between the different interests in Canada and to ensure the bill strikes the right balance and that one group is not favoured too much over another group. We, on this side of the House, believe that the bill does not actually hit the right mix and does not actually provide the right balance.

For example, we have heard a lot of talk today about digital locks. We are saying that the provisions on digital locks are too stringent. They tip the balance too far in favour of the very big corporations and do not really look after the interests of a number of consumers and, in fact, may actually hurt artists, not the large corporate artists but the smaller artists.

There is a real danger that consumers will be unable to access content they have already purchased, for example. This tips the balance toward protecting large corporations and not really allowing consumers full access to something they purchased. In some sense, it will actually be more like renting the information than owning it.

We think the bill is tipped too far in favour of industry and needs to be rethought. This whole debate reminds me of the same debate we had in the 1990s concerning drug patents. There again, the balance was not achieved between consumers and businesses. Consumers and one part of the drug industry ended up on the short side of the stick, where the giant pharmaceutical companies ended up with most of the benefits.

I will take hon. members back to that time. In 1992, Brian Mulroney's Conservative government modified the Patent Act under Bill C-91, the Patent Act Amendment Act. The bill eliminated compulsory licences for pharmaceutical products and the law tipped the balance to patented drugs manufacturers and greatly injured mostly Canadian-based genetic drug industry. There was a huge controversy.

The number of responses that my colleague from Surrey has mentioned and that we have all received on this all say that there is huge controversy on the proposed bill, that we are just rushing through it and that again we are tipping the balance too much toward industry.

In this case, in the reform of the Patent Act in 1992, we really hurt the generic drug industry. Drugs are now more expensive and the R and D that was promised by the giant pharmaceutical companies was not actually invested in Canada as was promised. Bill C-91 was viewed by many as a major victory for giant pharma. It offered greater patent protection to those big companies, it abolished compulsory licensing and it created regulations to ensure generic drugs did not infringe upon the patent.

As we argued in that case and we will argue in this case, we need to look at all the people who would be affected by the bill, and we are not feeling that the current bill, Bill C-11, hits the right mix.

We do think, however, that modernization is long overdue, as we have stood up and said many times in the House. However, the bill has too many glaring problems and, unfortunately, it even creates problems where none currently exists. The ultimate test of bad policy is when we actually cause more problems than we are fixing.

We have suggested and will continue to suggest a system to create a fairer royalty system for creators. These industries generate a lot of profits but we want to ensure they are shared evenly among creators.

I find it troubling how Bill C-11 would wipe away millions of dollars in revenue for artists, local artists, artists from the Canadian Independent Musical Artists. It would hurt this community and it really would not provide any new opportunities for artists' remuneration. It would give with one hand and take away with the other.

Many people share our fears. We on this side of the House are not making this up. We have had plenty of people say that they are against this. For example, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, which is a group I used to be part of when I was a professional musician, say that these:

...copyright law amendments should facilitate access to creative content on new media and ensure that creators are fairly compensated for the use of their creative content on new media. Access must go hand in hand with compensation. Without this balance, the creation of creative content will eventually decrease, as Canadian creators will be unable to make a living.

As a former independent artist, we all know that local artists do not make any money from selling albums. They make money from playing live. We are not talking about Céline Dion or Bryan Adams or any of the large, multinational corporate type of entertainers. We are talking about local entertainers. For example, we are talking about Joel Plaskett Emergency, Stars, The Weakerthans, Said The Whale, Caribou, D.O.A., Arkells, City and Colour, Dan Mangan, Valentines and Billy the Kid, just to name a few artists who are working to produce material to entertain and bring joy to people's lives. They are being left aside under this copyright legislation.

The government tends to favour the big corporations, but does not look after the smaller producers. I will give a sense of what independent artists make. They make about $12,000 a year. I know this having been one of those artists in the past, I know that members from Toronto and northern Ontario have performed in independent Canadian bands and have travelled in what I deem to be stinky bands, driving from venue to venue. However, artists are not making a lot of money off their album sales. They use their albums to promote themselves and try to draw people to their live gigs where they make their modest living.

The bill should look at the majority of artists in this country who are independent artists eking out a living and make sure that we strike a balance with the laws we are putting in place, not only to protect large corporate interests but also to make life easier for the artists and all the people they entertain.

Other validators of our position on this bill include Michael Geist, a well-known technological commentator. He says:

The foundational principle of the new bill remains that anytime a digital lock is used--whether on books, movies, music or electronic devices--the lock trumps virtually all other rights.

Again, this is where balance has not come into play in the bill. In fact, it is a bit of overkill that we have seen time and time again from the government. It is tipping things too far to one side and not really taking the interests of all Canadians into consideration.

Mr. Geist says that the new digital lock means that “both the existing fair dealing rights and...new rights all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device”.

I will switch as an educator again and speak about the textbooks that I have authored. It is a shame that, under the bill, students, in some cases, would be penalized from keeping those textbooks and using them later in life. They would essentially, as my colleague says, need to burn them because they are digital, which would limit education in this country. Everyone knows that we do not absorb all the information from a textbook. We go back and refer to it as we go through life.

The legislation misses the mark. We need more balance and we are hoping to work with the government to achieve that.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before moving on to questions and comments, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Infrastructure; the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou, Small and Medium-Sized Businesses.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member's presentation. It is clear the NDP and the member will not support the bill. Earlier we heard earlier the member for Trinity—Spadina say that the bill was all about pleasing American movie studios.

The fact is that foreign location production is at $1.5 billion annually. Film and TV production generated more than 117,000 full-time job equivalents in 2009-10, including 36,000 in foreign location and service production. A lot of jobs are at stake. We have heard that many companies are concerned about the fact that Canada is very much an outlaw in terms of protecting intellectual property.

The hon. member represents a riding in Vancouver and Vancouver is an area that has benefited from much of this film production. Would the hon. member not agree that we really need to protect investment in Canada, even in his own city of Vancouver?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, that question points out to me how the government has missed the point here. It is not that we are against modernization. It is not that we are against helping companies protect their interests or their intellectual property. What we are against is how far this legislation would go, and it is too far. As with the patent drug act in the 1990s, it will hurt other sectors of the Canadian industry that really need to be protected.

I hope the government will look at the legislation again because there are deep flaws in it.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the bill does send some mixed messages to individuals who are following this debate. On the one hand, we recognize that jobs in the gaming industry for example, whether in Winnipeg, Vancouver or Ontario, are important and valuable. We also recognize that individuals have the right to protect their interests. On the other hand, this legislation gives us serious concerns because it deals with what a student at a local university would be able to keep, that the student would have to dispose of homework. A lot of university students love to keep the work they did during their studies. Some of them will keep it for years. Could the member provide his thoughts on that issue?

There are some good things in the bill, but there are also some things which would have a profound negative impact.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, as an educator for decades and as somebody who writes textbooks, what often happens is students are not aware of what they are learning as they go through their courses, but it is only upon further reflection that what they are learning sinks in deeply.

From my understanding, 30 days after a course ends a great deal of the material that a student might collect has to be destroyed. That is contrary to my sense of what learning actually is. The government has to take another look at this because that is not going to move Canada ahead. It is going to undermine our education system. The government has to have another look at it.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I also want to share concerns from my area. A couple of universities are in my riding, Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen University.

My colleague has quite a bit of experience as he was a professor at a university. Would he comment briefly on the impact this legislation would have on educators and students?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Surrey North is a fine educator of high repute in his own right .

The problem is this law is so complex that the ramifications have probably not filtered down to universities and colleges and perhaps even to high schools. That is why we need to discuss this more. The government should ensure that it consults a bit more and talks to universities to find out what they will do to ensure that education continues in the way it should.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in the House as a representative for the people of Scarborough—Rouge River to join this debate. The issue of copyright modernization is on the minds of many of my constituents and I am happy to bring their concerns forward today.

Copyright modernization is definitely required to bring Canada into the 21st century and to catch up with the technological advances that we have seen since the creation of the existing copyright legislation. We need to reform our copyright legislation in a way that will create a balance between the two fundamental principles that drive copyright legislation: ease of access and the right of remuneration for the creator.

Bill C-11, which is exactly the same as Bill C-32 that was brought before the previous Parliament, does not create balance between the ease of use and the right of remuneration. Instead, the bill is about corporate rights, which is different from copyrights.

The right of artists to have remuneration for their copies is under direct attack point after point in the bill. Instead, there are areas in the bill where the right of artists to be paid is taken away and replaced by a false right, the right to lock down content.

The Conservative government is very partial to locks. We know that. It really understands prisons and locks.

In the introduction to the bill, we heard the minister say that the digital lock would restore the market. I am very skeptical about that. Through my conversations with constituents and friends in the music industry, I have never met an artist who could feed his or her family on a lock. Instead, these artists feed their families on the right they have as artists to be remunerated through their mechanical royalties, television rights and book rights. Mechanical royalties provide a small amount of return for their efforts, but that return is crucial to them, especially to young aspiring new artists.

Therefore, when the government comes along and attempts to strike out, as it does in the bill, the mechanical royalty rights that have been guaranteed under the Copyright Board of Canada, it deprives artists of the millions of dollars that actually make it possible to carry on the works. How is this restoring the market? I do not understand.

The other crucial element, one which New Democrats have asked for again and again, is copyright reform that addresses the needs of Canadian consumers, artists and students in a digital realm. This element is one of huge importance to my constituents.

The bill poses a fundamental problem with its education provisions. The restrictions it would impose on students and teachers are extremely problematic.

Copyright has historically been based around the idea that creation and knowledge must be shared. Historically, copyright law has been designed to facilitate education. Actually, the first piece of copyright legislation ever adopted was Britain's act for the encouragement of learning. Canada's original copyright legislation was designed with similar intentions. The reforms in the legislation proposed by the bill do not, unfortunately, maintain the same founding principles and completely ignore the original intent of copyright legislation in Canada.

The Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto and the campuses of both Centennial College and Seneca College border my riding. The restrictions imposed by Bill C-11 are of great concern to the instructors, professors, students and administrators of these colleges and university as well as other colleges and universities across the country, as I speak to them as the official opposition's critic on post secondary education.

The legislation would require students to dispose of their digital class notes after 30 days, as well as destroy course plans and course notes by professors and instructors after 30 days of the completion of their course. Failure to do so would mean that these students would be infringing copyright legislation. This raises a number of red flags for me. How does this facilitate education?

With advances in technology, more and more students are accessing their post-secondary education in a variety of new ways. Through the use of technology, we can now offer programs in distance learning. This means that students in remote locations, or in locations where their course of choice is not available, can access courses and course material online. With the changes to the copyright legislation that are proposed in the bill, this course material will only be available for 30 days. After such point, the students will be required to dispose of the material at the end of their course.

This change would not only pose a problem to those pursuing their education online, but to virtually all students. Anyone who has been enrolled in a post-secondary education program or who knows someone who is enrolled in a post-secondary education program recently understands the shift in the digitization currently being made by professors and instructors at many institutions of post-secondary education. I recently attended three of them.

More and more instructors and professors are not only posting their notes, their course outlines and their lesson plans online, along with an array of the supplementary course materials, but they are also providing online forums that encourage the sharing of notes and the continuation of discussion once the lesson is completed for the day.

With the reforms proposed in this legislation, posts that students have put up would now have to be deleted or removed after 30 days. This would be problematic for many reasons, as many of my colleagues have mentioned.

First, this creates a modern book-burning regime, whereby countless sources of information and new thought will be lost forever.

Second, it creates a two-tired rights system between an analog and paper system versus a digital system, whereby students who keep written notes are not be forced to destroy those after 30 days and students who keep digital notes are be forced to destroy them. The mandatory destruction of course notes and material is detrimental to all students. Students routinely keep their notes to allow for them to go back and use these notes for further study and completion of related courses. Also, students keep these notes year after year to build a body of work toward getting their degree, certificate or diploma program.

I kept notes from my second and third year courses to use in my masters program and textbooks from my undergraduate degree for my masters program. Now I would not be able to do that.

Last, it creates an unfair barrier to students with different learning styles. This legislation does not allow for an exemption to organizations that provide educational resources in alternative formats to increase accessibility and success of those with learning disabilities. It discriminates against people with learning disabilities.

Related to this, many students are not capable of taking notes, for a variety of reasons, and have notes taken and provided to them by note-takers. Note-takers are of huge importance to the success of many students. Without these note-takers, post-secondary educations would not be accessible to these students. Note-taking also provides a small income to those who attend these extra courses and provide others with notes.

How would the notes of note-takers be affected by the proposed legislation? Would this not hurt them along with the students they provide the notes for if they have to be destroyed?

It is completely shocking and absurd that after 30 days students would not the right to access their own class notes that are made digitally. I have met with many people throughout the education sector and I have never once heard that the destruction of class notes after 30 days is a good idea. In fact, I have heard the complete opposite. This provision is unacceptable. It is backward thinking and it is needless. It would not protect any business model, but it would have a major detrimental effect on students and on education in our country.

Therefore, for the betterment of our society, that provision has to go. I implore the government to look at this and ensure that it is removed.

The other issue that is of great importance to me and my constituents is that of the digital lock. There is a very important right of creators to protect their work. One of the ways to protect this work is through digital locks. While the protection of a creator's work is extremely important, the anti-circumvention rights for content owners included in the legislation would create a situation in which digital locks would supersede virtually all other rights, including fair dealing rights for students and journalists. Because of this, a situation would be created where digital locks would supersede other rights guaranteed in the charter, such as changing format in case of a perceptual disability. It would also pose a very real danger that consumers would be prohibited form using content for which they had already paid. This would be problematic for many artists and many creators in my community.

Bill C-18—Notice of Time Allocation
Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

November 22nd, 2011 / 4:55 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we know that Canadian grain farmers have what it takes to succeed in an open market, as demonstrated by the staggering growth in recent years of farmers' production of canola and pulses. In order for farmers to realize the potential they have, we need to provide them with certainty for the upcoming growing season and pass Bill C-18 before we rise for Christmas.

I must advise that an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) concerning the proceedings at report stage and third reading of Bill C-18, An Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and related amendments to certain Acts. Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at those stages.

Bill C-18—Notice of Time Allocation
Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

On the same point, Mr. Speaker, I just want to make it very clear that the Liberal Party of Canada does not support the actions that are being taken by the government, knowing full well that a vast majority of prairie grain farmers—

Bill C-18—Notice of Time Allocation
Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order. This is in the form of a notice under a standing order. It is not debatable. The member may know that debating this point is not in order.

The House appreciates the information from the hon. House leader. I am sure members will find the information important for the proceedings.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.