House of Commons Hansard #123 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

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments made by my hon. colleague earlier today.

On our side we have been fighting every step of the way for a balanced approach to copyright, an approach that balances the needs of consumers with the needs of artists to be paid, and also in a framework that looks forward, that looks to new business models that would create a climate for innovation, a climate whereby we could build a middle class of artists. We saw this as a great opportunity. What my friend opposite has been talking about does not really address this.

I am wondering how his government can justify, for example, the wiping out of $21 million due to a loophole that is created in the bill that would allow broadcasters to avoid paying the broadcast mechanical. This right was not just plucked out of the ether. It was adjudicated by the Copyright Board and the government has managed to eliminate it through the back door.

We have not heard from the government why this happened. How can the government justify it?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, the $21 million has been eliminated. However, it is our feeling that the equilibrium which will be struck between the rights of the consumer and the rights of producers and, of course, musicians, will more than compensate for that $21 million in benefits to the consumer and also as protection for the artists.

Many of the artists are very happy with this, whether they be musicians, painters or photographers. There have been initial rights extended to photographers, who did not have those rights before.

It is all a matter of balancing and some things fall the other way.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was really glad that the member was so precise that the Conservatives took $21 million off the table, because that is not what they said they were going to do. They said they were creating a 30-day exemption, but that 30-day exemption is a loophole which then allows them not to have to pay that. It is an extraordinary thing to set up legislation that creates a loophole for one group to sneak through and not have to pay, yet when the Conservatives have been asked about it, they have said that they have no intention of artists having a right to be paid.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague why the government actually intervened directly into a system that had been adjudicated by the Copyright Board. These were rights in the same way that anyone has a right to receive compensation, but the government decided it would create a loophole and ensure that the large radio players do not have to pay it.

Why would he think that creating loopholes to rip off artists is good public policy?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP call it a loophole. On this side of the House, we call it creating prosperity, balancing the interests of the consumer and the interests of the artists.

The Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations said that, from coast to coast to coast, Canadian artists have been hit hard by unchecked Internet piracy. That is why the council strongly supports Bill C-32 and our efforts to reform copyright legislation. And it is artists, particularly those who are just beginning their careers, who need these reforms to ensure that they can earn a living from playing their music.

Maybe some day, although Mick Jagger is not a Canadian citizen, he will be able to stop going on tour.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the member can comment on why it is the government has not listened to consumers and consumer advocates with regard to their concerns on digital locks. Once people have purchased a digital song, for example, why is it that they will not be able to make copies for their own personal use? It is a concern that the Conservatives seem to have forgotten about.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, very simply, it is a matter of balance. If we do not have locks, it will wipe out the industry. If people have free access to all music with no holdbacks so that artists can get some money, artists will never be able to retire, perhaps like Mick Jagger.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be in this place and to represent the great people of Davenport.

The folks in my riding care about this issue because there is a very high proportion of people who work in the arts and culture sector in my riding and Toronto in general.

We need to be very clear about a few things. There is really nothing in this bill that is going to help most artists in this country get a pension. In fact, the government has done nothing since I was elected last year to help those who do not have a pension get one. There is nothing in this bill that will help create a middle class for artists in this country. The government has taken an issue, which is piracy, and used it as an excuse to take away money that was there for artists, up to $50 million, if we include some of the other issues.

The government needs a quick primer on how artists in this country make a living. The Conservatives like to talk about small businesses. The Conservatives like to think and say that they are the champions of small business. We are talking about artists who contribute greatly to the economy of this country. The arts and culture sector makes up a significant part of Canada's GDP, and yet individual artists, on average, make under $13,000 a year. The Conservatives did not even do it in an honest way, but they created a loophole. They said that they were not changing the rights, that they were not saying that broadcasters should not pay, and then they brought witnesses into committee from the broadcasting sector who said exactly that. In fact, they complained that the loophole on the broadcast mechanical was not big enough for them.

The government has said time and time again that it stands up for artists, but the Conservatives are not walking the walk in this regard. When the government takes $21 million out of the pockets of artists, this is what happens. Artists who are writing songs and are trying to produce records and small labels that are trying to get their businesses off the ground need every dollar they can get. We are not even talking about grants. We are talking about remuneration for a right that the Copyright Board has already adjudicated on. That is what we are talking about. We are not even talking about public money being transferred to arts groups. We are talking about the private sector paying for the right.

There was so much misinformation in committee it went to the throat of the issue, which is that on significant issues around music, the government chose not to listen to just about every major stakeholder. Copyright is complex and we accept that. We know there is a great balancing act. However, there was one issue on which all stakeholders in the music industry agreed. One would think if there was unanimity on one issue, the government would listen. That issue was the broadcast mechanical. There was no reason for that, other than, of course, the big broadcasters.

We have a government which is not listening to the voices of small business. If it were, it would be listening to the voices of artists, because artists are small business people. Instead, it listened to the singular voice of big broadcasting in this country. Those companies do not want to pay a very small royalty. They will spend billions buying each other, but they do not want to pay for the arts. In fact, the committee heard testimony from broadcasters who said, “I know we play music on our radio station, but that is just part of what we do”. In other words, they do not place too much value on the music that is played on the radio.

To me that is fundamentally untrue. It misrepresents the entire business model of the music industry, including broadcasting, unless we are talking about radio that is not as committed to Canadian artists as it should be.

We have made it very clear, as well, in our position that we need to link the prohibition on circumventing digital locks to acts of copyright infringement, in other words, allowing the circumvention of digital locks for lawful purposes, lawful purposes that are already set out in the act. In fact, what is happening in this bill is that the clause that disallows any breaking of a TPM, a technical protection measure, would take precedence over the rights that are already granted.

We presented amendments that sought to redress this imbalance in the act. One of them was the issue that if we are breaking a TPM to allow persons with perceptual disabilities to use something that we would not be required to put that lock back on. It does misrepresent the whole notion of what a technical protection measure is and that somehow if a code were broken in order for someone to, for example, put closed captioning on a film for someone who is hard of hearing or deaf, that somehow would then need to put that technical protection measure back on and, in a sense, put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It underlines a certain willingness to present the issues of technical protection measures in a light that is not clear. On our side, we were willing to work with the government on these issues.

I want to double back to the issue of those in the arts and culture sector. Many people who work in this sector require micro-payments just to get by. So, a $200 cheque here, a $100 cheque there, a $50.00 gig there is the difference between whether an artist will be able to pay for that next recording, which could potentially end up in a song that may get on the radio or get in a film and, if that happens, his or her career gets a major boost. It is these small payments that help to nurture the Canadian arts and culture sector and it is these small payments that have been wiped off the table.

The government says that it will compensate that by all the other fantastic measures that are in the bill. However, what it has done here, and it has not been honest about it, is that it has essentially wiped out a revenue stream for artists. In fact, it has wiped one out and, with the private copying levy, it is willing to stand by while that one starves.

The government has decided to attack the income for everyday working artists in this country. It has listened to the voices of big broadcasters, big business, big media and big Hollywood and it has left the voices of regular, average Canadians, those artists who are trying to contribute to their communities and to this culture, twisting in the wind.

These are some of the many reasons that we are not supporting this bill and why we will be voting against it in the next round.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague touched on a couple of things that I would like him to expand on.

I heard a member across the way mention Mick Jagger and say that Mick Jagger would not be hurt by this. That is absolutely true because the Copyright Act itself is about protecting the small members, the guys who do it on a daily basis, who collect those $100 cheques here and those $4 cheques there. I am one of those people. For the movies that I do, I get a $4.50 cheque for something I did 10 years ago. It is that cumulative thing that would be affected.

Taking $21 million out of the pockets of those people with that $200 cheque, which would be what he or she needs to pay the rent, is what would be harmful here.

I wonder if my colleague would care to expand on that a bit?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, ACTRA, estimates that Canada's arts and culture sector contributes about $85 billion a year to our country's economy, 7.4% of Canada's gross national income. One would think that artists did not contribute to the Canadian economy in such a hefty way by the treatment that they are getting in this legislation.

My colleague makes an excellent point. This is not about Mick Jagger, Bryan Adams or Celine Dion. Those examples should not be used because that completely obscures the issue. It is like saying that one is for small business and then saying how great things are going for CIBC. It completely obscures the issue.

We need to be talking about how artists make a living in this country, how small entrepreneurs in the arts and culture sector make a living in this country. Wiping $21 million out of the pockets of artists, producers and creators is not the way to go.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I rise to put a question for the member opposite because it pains me to see such a well-informed representative of this country's cultural industry cutting off his nose to spite his face.

Would the member opposite not agree that whatever the number that may be lost to some artists, $21 million, larger or smaller, the bigger fight that is being undertaken in this legislation is against piracy? It is in favour of the rule of law in cultural industries, in the arts. This legislation is in favour of the little guy, the struggling folk singer, the visual artist, the broadcaster, who does not have the ability through our current copyright legislation to control the fruits of his or her labour and to receive remuneration for them. This legislation is in favour of putting piracy on the ropes and having the rule of law enforced in this sector. The stakes are much higher for the little guy and the benefits could run into possibly billions of dollars.

Would the member opposite not grant us that? Will he stop cutting off his nose to spite his face?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hate to see the real time cutting off a nose to spite one's face but that is what I just witnessed.

It is like being told that I need to go to the dentist because my teeth need fixing but that, by the way, the dentist will break my legs at the knees at the same time. The two things do not relate.

We are not arguing the piracy issue. We understand that there are issues in the bill that have been toughly fought out and that it is a tricky file. However, the government is trying an end run around the truth. The truth is that whatever measures it has around piracy have nothing to do with taking $21 million. Are the Conservatives trying to say that in order to deal with piracy they needed to wipe $21 million out of the pockets of artists? That argument does not fly.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place today to speak to Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act, and the important provisions that this bill would give to help Canadian users take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital economy.

Since our government first began to address copyright modernization early in our mandate, we have been committed to ensuring that our approach be one based on balance. The Copyright Act as it stands today is woefully out of date. It was last updated in 1997 at a time when VCRs and Discmans were found in every household.

Like all MPs, for example, I make significant use of my BlackBerry. When I meet with constituents, most of them are connected as well. Moreover, we are all using new technologies to stay in touch with the people on the ground in the riding, whether it be through mobile devices, Facebook, Twitter or other online tools.

We are all seeing new and innovative ways in which our constituents are using digital tools to create, innovate, better their communities and strengthen their local economies. This kind of activity has surpassed the copyright legislation that we currently have on the books. That legislation does not reflect the world in which we live today.

As a result, it does not adequately protect copyright works in the digital economy nor does it respect the everyday uses of modern copyrighted works by users across the country. This has to change and that is why we have a bill as we do today.

It is no secret that copyright is a contentious issue. We had to be diligent in ensuring the myriad stakeholders had an opportunity to contribute and provide the perspectives on the way forward. That is why we engaged in an unprecedented online consultation in 2009. It is why our government has been working hard to tackle this issue since coming to office.

I know it has been said before but I think it bears repeating that it is why the legislative committees sat for over 20 days and heard from over 100 witnesses. The goal was to deliver a final bill that effectively takes into account the important and diverse views and balances the many competing interests.

Through this process, members on both sides of the aisle have learned a lot. In Bill C-11, we have achieved this balance. I think it is fair to say that the legislative committee has returned to this House a bill that is ready to be moved to the Senate.

As we have been discussing throughout these debates, the legislative committee, both in this Parliament and the previous one, has done tremendous work in maintaining this balance. With respect to what the bill does for consumers, our government believes that we have struck the right balance. We have brought into the copyright law many legitimate everyday activities, like recording a television show to view later and changing the format of a CD or music file, that have been long overdue.

Let us think of an iPod, not to tax it like the NDP would, but to imagine that downloading something onto these types of devices is illegal under the old law. I cannot think of a more crystal clear example of why change is necessary.

From those educators teaching their classes from a distance to creative people at home putting together mash-up videos and sharing them online, we have ensured that legitimate uses of copyrighted material are permitted under the law.

Finally, through this bill, we have updated provisions in the law that allow for the adaptation of copyrighted material for use by people with perceptual disabilities. The legislative committee tasked with reviewing this bill has made a number of targeted amendments to better deliver the government's intent without affecting the balance of the bill. The provisions relating to the perceptually disabled are an example.

The bill as it was introduced would allow a non-governmental organization to adapt and export a copyrighted work by a Canadian author or an author of another country to which the export will go. This is an important provision that would enable perceptually disabled people to access works that are not already available in the marketplace.

The committee heard testimony that it was not always easy to determine nationality. As a result, an amendment was made to ensure that mistakes made in good faith should not result in financial liability for the organization. That is a fair compromise and one I think members can support.

As with all the provisions in this bill aimed at consumers, this technical amendment helps to ensure fair balance on copyright. Through this and other technical amendments my colleagues have adopted, the bill represents the best way forward to modernize Canadian copyright for the modern 21 century digital economy.

A modern and balanced copy right regime is long overdue in our country. I urge hon. members to join me in supporting this bill and helping move it to the Senate. We cannot delay any longer. The day-to-day activities of Canadians and the digital market itself are changing and growing fast for our outdated copyright regime. We must act and we must act now to pass the legislation.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess the big issue is that members of the Conservative government do not want to address the obvious flaws that could have been fixed in the bill. They have taken a very belligerent attitude toward fixing those flaws.

For example, if people have a perceptual disability, perhaps they are blind and they need to access something for work, they should not be criminalized and treated like pirates. Yet, under the bill, they can only access the work if they do not “unduly impair the technological protection measure”.

I do not know if my hon. colleague deals with technical protection measures, but they are not like a lock that gets picked and then everyone gets to run in. It is a complex code of software. The fact is the government refused to deal with very clear, simple amendments that would protect students with perceptual disabilities to access works that they had a right to access. The government refused to work with them and would treat them the same as they would a pirate.

Why would the government not show a little decency and a willingness to work with the opposition to fix the obvious flaws of the bill?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, the premise of the question is that we did not work with the opposition in terms of bringing this together. We had hearings for 20 days that heard over 200 witnesses. Prior to this, in past Parliaments with previous iterations of this bill, there were hundreds of witnesses. The insinuation is that we are not working to strike the right balance, which is absolutely false.

As I have said in my speech, we have put in provisions for those who are visually disabled. We have put provisions in that would allow copyrighted materials to be properly protected.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I find troubling with this, which I think my colleague for Timmins—James Bay alluded to, is the consultation process where, at first glance, the numbers present what the Conservatives consider to be a fair way to go about this. However, let us look at some of the facts which could be easily rectified, but are not in the bill.

First and foremost, let us look at the education exemption. I have a direct question and a scenario that maybe the member could address.

If a financial institution like a bank decides to educate its employees, would that fall under the exemption as well, or is it just for other institutions?