House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was balance.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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 motion that this question be now put.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

February 10th, 2012 / 12:05 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise again to debate on the bill. I would hope that once the bill gets to committee, it would become a little more like what Canadians are looking for. At the present time, it is not.

The hon. member who spoke before stated that the bill, in its incarnation as Bill C-32, was the subject of wide splits then. However, that same bill was re-introduced as Bill C-11 with no changes. I am surprised that the Conservatives feel that people should be accepting the bill in this incarnation.

One of the many issues is the right of the artist. Copyright was something that was created to protect the interests of the artists, the owners and creators of works. However, the bill seems set toward usurping that right and creating a right for users. This does not happen in any other industry. If one builds a car, there are no laws legislating how much one can charge for that car. The pricing is market driven.

Independent artists are independent workers. They create work and the value of the work is based on merit. The use of that work should be controlled by the artist and not by industry or users. Users should have access to that work under certain conditions, but free access is something that neither helps the industry nor the artists.

If an artist cannot make a living doing their work and have no income, they basically have to go to the double arches to flip hamburgers to make a living. How can they create and work if their time is split that way? If there is no artistic work to be used as a result, then the users lose because they have nothing to benefit from.

First and foremost, I will cover the issue of remuneration, which is lost under this bill, as the private copy levy will be virtually phased out with the changeover of technologies. Remuneration of upwards of $30 million now goes to individual artists. This money is extremely important for an artist, because it is the difference between their making enough money to do their work in their craft and having to split their time between flipping hamburgers or working in a restaurant.

Over the last few years, in music particularly, we have seen Canadian artists rocket to the top of the world music industry. This is because they have had the time to polish their craft and create as opposed to doing odd jobs in order to earn a living. This has allowed artists to live like normal people, to have families, and to contribute to the tax rolls and, more importantly, contribute to the beauty and identity of Canada.

The bill would take that away and offers no compensation or re-compensation for the use of artists' work. Again, and I will repeat this many times, the bill first and foremost does not respect the rights of artists

Earlier in the House the members opposite stated that the bill was supported by producers and associations. One artist was named in that list. In a democracy that is fine, but I can tell the House that tens of thousands of artists have come to me and my colleagues to say that the bill will not work for them. If we are continuing debate on the bill, it is because of the lack of movement on the government side to hear what these artists are saying and the other stakeholders who have issues with the bill.

There is no time limit to debate. If a bill does not work, we should debate it until it does work, until it finds consensus. Otherwise, all it would be is one side's thoughts and everyone would have to live with them.

This is what artists are fighting. This is what other organizations, arts organizations, theatre companies, film companies, actors, musicians, all the people who have a vested interest in this copyright law are fighting. The government needs to listen to them.

I will hold the minister to his word that he wants to see amendments that make this bill better come out of the committee.

In terms of the type of people this bill affects, as in rights holders, it does not cover re-use laws. For example, when a visual artist creates a work, a sculpture or a painting, and that work is sold for $1,000, and then within a period of time the physical owner of that work sells it for $10,000, none of that $10,000 is seen by the artist. It moves on in time, and as the fame or the talent of the artist grows, the work grows in value. The artist who created that work does not see the profits from that work. This is something the bill needs to address.

It is the same thing with photography. When a photographer takes a picture, who owns that picture? If a photographer takes a picture at a family outing, a wedding or whatever, who owns the rights to that picture? If the couple wants to make copies to send to family members, which is a wonderful thing and something they need to do, that photograph is being copied and the creator is not being remunerated for that.

Centuries have gone by where artists were looked upon as vagabonds and beggars and useless members of society. I, being an artist, have always taken offence to that, but hey, the world is what the world is.

Not so long ago copyright was created to prevent artists from having their work taken from them. Once upon a time an artist would create a work and he or she would be given $50 and the work would be the property of whoever bought it. None of that remuneration would ever come back to the artist. The original copyright laws were put into place to help stop that from happening.

Today there are blues artists who have contributed to the growth of music in the world but who will die destitute because they have no claim to the work they created. This copyright bill needs to protect them. It needs to address that issue even further.

In terms of digital locks, why? Digital locks only serve the producers of the work, the shared copyright holders of the work, the industry, per se. Locking a piece of work only serves two things. It serves those whose sole interest is in finding a way around the lock, which seems to be a favourite pastime of many people. Finding a way around these digital locks gives them an opportunity to practise their craft, so to speak. What can be locked can be unlocked. How does this benefit artists? How does taking $30 million out of their pockets and putting a lock on their work benefit them?

The bill needs to be considered a good long time. It is something that has been needed for a long time to become compliant with the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, and create devices against piracy.

However, the bill seems to leave more to punitive speculation after things are done as opposed to making sure that: one, artists are remunerated properly; two, people have reasonable access to that; and three, how we make a bill that serves everybody as opposed to one segment of society.

Copyright Modernization Act
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12:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague's speech. It is wonderful to hear an artist's perspective on Bill C-11.

Could he give us his view of what this country would look like and how Canadian society would benefit if artists were properly valued for their contributions and remunerated accordingly?

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12:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have seen the benefits that properly remunerating artists has had. Canada is second to none in the creative industry, in the music industry, and even in the film industry as we grow. That begins to create a Canadian voice in the world.

Much of what the world learns about another nation or another culture is through the entertainment arts, such as film, television and music. Canada's voice is being heard loud and clear, and has been over the last couple of decades due to the fact that artists are remunerated in such a way that they can focus on their art.

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12:15 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, we look at what is going on today with time allocation, and some of the other issues, for example, the dysfunctional behaviour of committees, the manoeuvres used in camera at committees, and the constant time allocation motions brought in by the government, and it tells us that we have debated the issues time and time again in the House. It leads me to wonder whether the members opposite are getting bored, but Canadians are not. They want their voices heard.

We are debating a very complex bill here, yet for the pooled retirement pension plan legislation we only had two members speak to the bill before the government moved a motion for time allocation.

These are very serious implications. I wonder if my hon. colleague could speak to the serious implications of the serial use of time allocation.

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12:20 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, time allocation has been a problem. It has been used more often than need be.

Bills of this complexity, whether they be on the PRPP or copyright, need time. We are constantly hearing that the debate has gone on for a long time or a number of years. However, there was a historic shift in this last election whereby approximately 110 new members, including members on the government side, were elected who had not taken part in the prior debates. For that reason alone there needs to be a thorough debate of the bill.

Any bill that has such complexity and such division needs to be debated until consensus can be found.

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12:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is quite ironic that the opposition members keep talking about closure, yet when they have the opportunity to put up new speakers to speak to the bill they actually do not do that. They put the same speakers up to speak more than once. I know that the opposition critic has spoken twice on this legislation. Many other members have spoken twice on the exact same piece of legislation. They do not seem to be so concerned about getting their new members involved in the debate.

How does the member justify the fact that what they are trying to do is actually delay a bill that is so important to the Canadian economy and to artists? How does he say on the one hand that he wants to protect artists but on the other he is against the protections that this bill puts in place for artists and creators?

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12:20 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of the member's question because this bill does not protect artists.

Although the government may view this as a delay tactic, which just demonstrates the government's frame of mind, it is not a delay tactic. We are asking for a proper debate on the bill.

There is no point in passing a bill which is so flawed that it will damage the industry as opposed to help it. If we are to pass a bill, let us pass one which is in good, solid form.

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12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to voice my support for the copyright modernization act.

Our government recognizes how important copyright is for Canada's creative industries. In the Speech from the Throne, we committed to introduce and seek swift passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users. I have had a lot of discussion in my riding with groups of creators and artists and they are very pleased that our government created this opportunity to pass this legislation as soon as possible. Bill C-11 delivers on this commitment.

Creative industries help drive our nation's economy. The Conference Board of Canada has estimated that culture generates roughly $46 billion in economic activity and accounts for 3.8% of the country's gross domestic product. It estimated that in the same year, Canada's creative industries employed more than 630,000 people. This is a significant contribution to the vitality of the Canadian economy.

Canada's creative industries depend on a strong intellectual property regime, one that protects their interests and gives them the certainty they need to develop new products and services. This is why our government has introduced legislation that will provide our creative industries with a clear and predictable legal framework.

Bill C-11 contains a number of important provisions that will help Canada's creative industries reach new markets. It will also help them to roll out new business models. It will provide them with the rights and protections they need to flourish in the digital economy of today and tomorrow.

In this context, I would like to mention that one of the great companies in Hamilton, PV Labs, a leader in high-end image acquisition and analytics, will receive an Academy Award in Hollywood tomorrow for the concept, design and implementation of the Pictorvision Eclipse, an electronically stabilized aerial camera platform. That is the type of thing we are looking for. We are looking to promote our creative industries.

The bill proposes a new making available right for performers and producers of sound recordings. This will allow copyright owners to control how their works are made available online. Copyright owners will also be given distribution rights. These rights will enable them to control the first sale of every copy of their work.

Performers will be given moral rights. These rights will ensure that their performance is not altered in a way that harms their reputation.

Photographers will also be given the same rights as other creators. They will be the first owner of copyright in their photographs and they will receive the same benefits as other creators.

The bill implements the rights and protections of the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties. This will bring Canada in line with its G8 partners and most of the major economies of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It will also help open up new trade markets for Canada's creative industries.

With Bill C-11, Canadian industries that depend on digital locks to protect their works will have the support of the law to do so. The Internet and digital technologies provide copyright owners with new opportunities to increase their business. However, they also carry a significant risk as they can also make copyright infringement easier. This is why some copyright owners choose to turn to digital locks to protect their content.

Software producers, video game producers and movie distributors have told our government that digital locks are an important part of their business model. They use digital locks to protect the significant investment they make in developing new products.

Canadian jobs depend on the industries' ability to make a return on their investment. These industries need to have the protection of the law. Bill C-11 sends a clear message that copyright infringement is unacceptable. It is detrimental to the growth of Canada's creative industries.

Bill C-11 recognizes that the most effective way to stop all online copyright infringement is to target those who enable and profit from the infringement of others. Here I am thinking of illegal peer-to-peer file sharing sites. Bill C-11 would target these sites. This would help support the development of legitimate downloading and streaming sites in Canada. This would ensure that our creative industries continue to make an important contribution to the vitality of Canada's economy.

Our government also recognizes that it is important to balance the needs of Canada's creative industries with those of users. That is why Bill C-11 includes copyright exceptions that recognize uses of copyrighted material that are reasonable in the digital environment.

These exceptions serve the public interest and are responsive to the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. I would note that these exceptions have been carefully designed to be technologically neutral and to ensure that they are restricted to the activities they were intended to permit. For instance, the bill would allow Canadians to record TV programs for later viewing, to copy music from CDs to MP3 players or to back up data if they are doing so for their own private use.

Bill C-11 also includes a number of measures that would allow educators and students to take advantage of digital technologies. For example, it would allow educators to use publicly available material from the Internet. Teachers would also be able to connect with students in remote communities across the country through technology enhanced learning.

The bill would also expand fair dealing for purposes of parody and satire. This mirrors a number of other jurisdictions in the world. This would recognize the importance of these acts in the creative process. By allowing these and other activities, our government is demonstrating that it recognizes that many new digital technologies have become commonplace and are a regular part of Canadians' lives. Our government believes that all Canadians, users and creators alike, will be well-served by more clarity and predictability and sufficient flexibility to adapt and take full advantage of new technologies.

The copyright modernization act is an essential part of our government's digital strategy. This update to Canada's Copyright Act is needed. It would give our creative industries the tools they need to protect their investments, reinvest in future innovation and create new jobs for Canadians. This legislation would also help Canadians better address the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. For these reasons, it needs to be passed by this Parliament as soon as possible.

I want to congratulate four of our software creators and engineers who, tomorrow, will receive their academy award in Hollywood: Mr. Michael Lewis of PV Labs; Greg Marsden, L-3 Wescam; Raigo Alas, a PV Labs contractor; and Michael Vellekoop of PV Labs. They will all be honoured for their engineering and software advances of gyro-stabilized aerial camera platform specifically designed for the motion picture industry.

In that context, Bill C-11 would help those creators of those innovative products to be on the front edge of technology. It would put Canada in the forefront of technology in digital format information.

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that my colleague had the opportunity to speak today considering the limited time for debate due to time allocation. It is unfortunate that more people will not be able to speak to this legislation because it is important to our artists.

My colleague said that our performers would be properly protected under the bill but I would challenge him on that. Rural performers in my riding are very concerned about the bill because they do not think it will protect them. They believe that it would protect the entertainment industry but not that it would protect the performers.

I wonder if the member could tell me how the bill could be amended in order to properly protect the interests of our performers, especially performers in rural areas.

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12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have had a lot of debate on copyright. I have some statistics for my hon. colleague. In the previous Parliament, the bill had 6 hours and 50 minutes of debate and a total of 17 speeches. In the committee, it had 39 hours in a total of 20 meetings. We had 78 organizations and 122 different individuals appear.

Bill C-11 has been debated for 20 hours and 50 minutes, with 74 speeches.

I am an engineer. I am looking forward to passing the bill at second reading and sending it to committee where we can debate it and where, I hope, some of the concerns will be addressed. We need to move forward.

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would not want to question the member's sentiment toward getting this passed quickly and getting on with the modernization of copyright laws in light of trade agreements, such as what we are doing with the European Union.

However, the issue is that when the government first made the attempt to bring the legislation into this House it died on the order paper. When it came back, changes were made. I do not think the government is totally against changes that are fundamental, but this time around it is. I am not quite sure why.

The government has heard from many witnesses, and the member just illustrated all the witnesses and all the testimony, but not one change was made.

The government said that it was open to technical amendments, although I am not sure it is, but in order for these to pass, they should have gone to committee before second reading. A lot of these amendments may not qualify because we have already accepted the bill in principle.

Perhaps the member would like to comment on why the government did not put it to committee already?

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12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, instead of always opposing what our government is saying, the other parties should put forward some interesting proposals instead of always trying to contradict what we are doing.

We need to go forward. Obviously, if the members have good proposals, they will be taken into consideration by our government.

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12:35 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat odd to hear the NDP member talk about time allocation. I note that he has actually spoken to the bill twice, taking up a slot of the onslaught of NDP members who, apparently, want to speak to this bill.

I wonder if the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East could talk about some of the dangers to the Canadian economy of the reckless NDP attitude to filibuster this bill, hold it in the House and not allow it to go to committee so that we could actually hear from more witnesses, perhaps consider some technical amendments, such as the Liberal member noted, and bring back a bill that works for Canadians and that protects our artists and our creators?