House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was artists.

Topics

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the bill would grant a range of new access privileges, but does not really increase opportunities for artists to make a living. This is a big issue for us on this side of the House because we know the arts and culture sector is a major economic driver in our country. The bill is an opportunity for us to get copyright right so innovation can proceed in the country.

Would my hon. colleague care to comment on the import of the arts and culture sector to our economy and to Canada as a whole?

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can say that arts and culture are very important in my riding and across the country.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists estimates that the arts and culture industries in Canada contribute $85 billion a year to our economy, which represents 7.4% of Canada's GNI. They support some 1.1 million jobs, or about 6% of the Canadian labour force. These industries and the jobs that depend on them can only survive in an environment where intellectual property is protected.

I could go on to say that many cities and towns make their living in the arts sector.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is true that everyone has been waiting a long time for a modernized copyright act that would reflect the new technologies and the new realities facing consumers, artists, producers and booksellers. At last, we have this opportunity to debate a new and modern copyright bill.

However, the debate on this issue has been going on for many hours and it is obvious that we are disappointed by what the government is proposing with Bill C-11.

Why are we disappointed? First, it is because both consumers and artists were consulted on many occasions but, unfortunately, most of the proposals put forward were ignored. Once again, people may be frustrated by the government's lack of consideration, even arrogance, regarding the views of those who have to live with the restrictions and the benefits of the laws that we pass.

Of course, this unwillingness to listen generates a lot of frustration, and we heard many vent that frustration. Allow me to address, among other issues, the government's lack of consideration for consumers' rights and also for artists' income and respect.

Generally speaking, there are several small things that have us worried about this bill. There are things which suggest that implementation problems could surface, because certain rights may not be respected and because the government may not have thought about everything when it drafted this legislation. I hope the government will be open to some changes, even just basic ones, to ensure that this bill is appropriate and that it respects people's rights.

I am not going to mention them all, but there is, for example, the difficulty that visually impaired people may have with the new lock standards on the content that they buy. Then there are the problems that distance learning could experience with the new standards and the new restrictions imposed by the locks. These are small issues which make us wonder and which also make us hope that the necessary adjustments will be made. I met with members of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and their position on this bill is very clear. They say:

The legislation misses an opportunity to take on the personal contributions made by students to publishers abroad, under the Book Importation Regulations. If these contributions were abolished, students could save $30 million annually.

We are hearing a lot of talk these days about rising tuition fees and about students who have a hard time making ends meet, who are worried about adding more costs to their education expenses and about their studies becoming much more difficult because of copyright restrictions. I will mention some of the concerns I have heard. There are three main ones.

First, there are interlibrary loans. I was studying to be a teacher not very long ago, and I can say that interlibrary loans offer a wealth of information to students. Today, library books are still available in paper format, of course, but many are available online. Whether we are talking about scientific articles or complete volumes housed in libraries, students, regardless of where in the country they live, have access to an impressive amount of information thanks to a high number of interlibrary loans and loans of digital articles. These students are worried about their rights because this is a matter of access to information; it is a tool to help educate oneself, learn and produce new material. We must not forget that there are students at the bachelor, master's and doctoral level who produce very interesting material because they have access to information. This is one of the first concerns raised by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

The other concern—and we have already talked about it a lot—has to do with the requirement that course notes be destroyed within 30 days.

I am greatly simplifying this. We already explained this measure. Students are also concerned about this. Students are recommending, among other things, that the clause in Bill C-11 about destroying information after 30 days be eliminated so that educational institutions can offer more effective and high-quality education, which will encourage lifelong learning and innovation.

I was a student but I was also a lecturer at a university. I know that there are things that need to be adapted. We agree that the Copyright Act needs to be adapted. Students often get together to purchase one copy of the class notes and then photocopy it. There are also professors who do not respect copyright. They photocopy entire chapters of books and give them to their students. A change must be made in this regard to ensure that copyright is respected in universities, but I do not think that the solution is to pass the bill on to students or to limit their access to information. I do not think that we are targeting the real problem or the people who should be paying for these documents. Changes also have to be made in this regard.

I am now going to speak about the new problems that Bill C-11 could cause because of the many exceptions it contains. Unfortunately, these exceptions cast a net that is a bit too wide and certain problems may arise as a result. I am speaking once again about the use of texts and materials in schools.

It was not so long ago that teachers were required to contribute, by buying course material, to an organization that collected funds and redistributed them. It was a sort of large communal piggy bank, where the money that was put in was redistributed to authors, artists and writers to ensure a certain degree of respect for copyright.

Elementary school, high school and college teachers make a lot of photocopies. They use materials and give them to their students. In order for it to be worthwhile for authors to continue to produce educational materials adapted to our Canadian and Quebec reality and in order for it to be worthwhile for authors of educational material to produce topical material and to be up-to-date on new information and technology and the new interests of our young people, they have to be compensated. No one is going to produce educational material for the sheer fun of it or for little or no compensation. That is ridiculous. These people need to be motivated to produce material so that our children, our teenagers and our young adults are motivated to learn and have the benefit of educational material that is adapted and interesting. This is an issue that causes considerable concern as well.

Similarly, every time anyone purchased a blank CD, which was used to store music, for instance, a certain amount from each CD was sent to a big, central piggy bank, and the money was then distributed to music producers. Why not adapt that principle—which worked very well and allowed for the distribution of millions of dollars to music producers—to new materials like iTunes and new tools that are used to copy music? Why not allow authors, musicians and artists to receive a royalty on what they produce? There are many such examples that demonstrate how out of touch this bill is.

In closing, I would like to say that, of course, we will vote against Bill C-11. I am sure we will hear the familiar refrain that the NDP is against artists. There is an important distinction to be made. We are in favour of protecting artists and the rights of consumers, and in favour of adapting the Copyright Act, but not to replace it with just about anything, and not just haphazardly.

What we have before us needs some serious reworking, which I hope will take into account the concerns of the people working in the field and all the amendments and suggestions made by other parties.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, Post-Secondary Education; the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood, Libya.

The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my dear colleague for her very vibrant and inspiring speech.

At a certain point in my life, I was a songwriter and three of my songs were in the top ten on the charts at the same time. I automatically received my royalties, which were just crumbs, insignificant amounts. These songs were also played in Europe, and I received a lot of money. When I heard that the Copyright Act would be modernized I said to myself that we would finally get a little bit more money and that it would be an incentive to write songs. What I have learned is that artists and creators will lose $126 million.

That is very disappointing and depressing and I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about it.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my artist colleague.

The best example I can think of to illustrate my point is the pride we feel when an Olympic athlete returns with a gold medal. These athletes are supported and receive financial assistance. They do not train full-time and also work full-time. No, athletes who perform are well taken care of and supported by sponsors, the government and others.

We are also proud of our artists who perform abroad and of the prizes won by movies, for example. But there are others. There are also all those who make music that may not be aired abroad, who write interesting and current school books for our youth, and so forth. Many artists are affected by this bill and they deserve consideration and a little more support to ensure that they continue to produce material that people will enjoy and be proud of.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for my colleague and it has to do with education and copyright.

Right now, we are witnessing a negative effect of this legislation. In theory, the bill should promote knowledge and culture, but we find ourselves with something that will prevent students, particularly those who live in remote regions, from having access to inter-library loans, which are the electronic transfer of information between libraries.

This means that the whole long distance learning component is jeopardized. This affects all those students who not only take a course but who also use the information provided in that course to learn, to write a thesis or an essay, and so on.

I wonder if the hon. member could tell us about the major problem for a student who lives in a remote region and who wants to write a thesis.

Copyright Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did say a few words about it earlier in my speech.

As a former student and teaching assistant at university, I find it very disturbing that Bill C-11 creates problems for students. Again, I do not think the government is using the right approach and targeting the right people. Several changes are required in this regard. Whether it is students in remote regions or students in large urban centres, the important thing is the same: access to Internet and loans between universities.

In order to produce intellectual material, master's students must, as the hon. member pointed out, have access to information and to documents, and for more than a few days or weeks. They also need that access to produce new material and new documents on their research. It is very important to support them in their endeavour and to ensure that the authors get their due, but also that students have access to the information.

Statements by Members
Privilege
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise this question of privilege because earlier today members on the government side raised issues of decorum in the House, the need for respect and the history of the House. However, during statements by members today, on behalf of my constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River, I raised the very important issue of the need for affordable housing across the country.

Safe, affordable housing is a major issue in my constituency and sadly it is something that too many Canadians go without. Many on this side of the House feel the government does not pay enough attention to this issue. Safe and affordable housing in communities like mine is a huge problem. I was trying to make a statement about this in the House because that is what my constituents asked me to do.

I am seeing almost 3,000 of my constituents lose their homes—

Statements by Members
Privilege
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member has risen on a question of privilege and I would hope she would get to it. I appreciate her reference to her statement today, but if she could quickly move to the question of privilege, that would be appreciated.

Statements by Members
Privilege
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

My apologies, Mr. Speaker. Clearly it is a very important issue for me and my constituents.

My question of privilege is that when I was making my statement, there was an excessive amount of noise. I was very disappointed that members opposite felt it appropriate to be excessively noisy. It is very disrespectful of the fact that I am here, as are all of us, to speak on issues on which our constituents want us to speak. However, what I was trying to say could not even be heard by members in the House let alone maybe even caught by the recording devices.

I feel my privilege was lost. I was unable to do the job that I was sent here to do, which is to speak on behalf of my constituents, because the members opposite were so loud.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that this is a prima facie case of privilege in the House.

Statements by Members
Privilege
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The Chair will take that under consideration and will return to the House on that if and when appropriate.

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.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.