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

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, the education exemption applies to formal education situations and formal teaching environments. It would be for primary, secondary and post-secondary education purposes.

One of the things that is difficult to determine in striking a balance is with those who would choose to violate copyright and call it something it is not, which is a real possibility. In fact, many legal professions are based on those premises.

We are trying to ensure that there is ample protection. We can be flexible in situations down the road when we review this legislation to ensure that those legitimate situations are properly protected and those that are not would be caught, as discussed earlier, with the piracy provisions. We have to ensure that people who have copyright interests are protected.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

May 14th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, my head spins sometimes when I hear the commentary from the other side. It is disturbing to me that the bill is coming out from a collection of individuals who have shown very little understanding of the process of creation and have decided to look at the end result and make the law based on the end result without looking at the effect of how we got there.

The current bill in its form now does a great disservice to the very people copyright legislation is supposed to protect. Either the government realizes this and does not care, or it is unaware of it. However, being the eternal optimist that I am, I believe there are some members over there who do care about these people, the creators. Therefore, I speak on record in hopes that in the future those same people will realize the changes needed to make the bill work.

Copyright starts with the creator and ends with the creator. Therefore, my focus is on the independent creator. I define “independent creator” as a freelance individual who is neither commissioned nor employed by an organization to create or develop a work in that organization's name. These individuals who depend on copyright law are the vast number of individuals that this law would affect. They depend on copyright law to ensure their rights to their work remain in their hands. It gives them the right to choose how the work is used and, through the Copyright Board, determine the value of that work and the determination of how it is used.

Believe it or not, because the delivery system has changed it does not mean copyright owners, or creators, should be penalized on the remunerated access to their work. They should still be paid for the work they do. It has taken a lot of decades to get to a point where artists can monetize the work they used. This is what I believe is being missed, especially on the mechanical rights. It is not a trade-off between piracy and remuneration; they both should be worked on and protected. Therefore, if we have individuals who wish to own a copy of a work created, whether they purchase it at their local music store or they purchase it online, it is still purchased.

Something I will share is that the changing of platform has existed since radio has existed. Back in the day, it was not as easy with digital records, where we just plop our MP3 player into our computer and transfer it onto the unit. Back in the day, it was a little less classy, a little less stealthy. We stood there with our portable tape recorder, held the mike up to the speaker and put it on a cassette so we could walk around with it. That was platform shifting back in the day.

The industry caught onto that and came up with eight-track players so people could listen to it in their cars. Unfortunately, the eight-track player did not go very far. Then cars started coming in with cassettes and the recording companies started making music available on cassettes so people could play it in their cars. Individuals would purchase the LP and/or the single and they would buy the eight-track and/or the cassette. They would pay four times so they could have their music where they wanted it.

Therefore, platform shifting existed from the beginning. I would like people to keep that in mind.

In the case of access for commercial use, one has access currently to a file or we purchase the file once. Now we have broadcasters asking why they should have to pay for things twice. They are not. They are paying for it once. After that, the commercial entity pays for each use, so we have an access fee and we have a use fee. Why use fees? Why should artists not just be thankful that their work is being played? Times have changed.

When radio first came into play, it was a medium of communication. We had live radio dramas and so forth. Then recorded music hit the ground. Rock and roll came about. Radio stations realized there was money in it, that if they played it, people would listen to the radio station and they could flog products that people would buy and the radio stations would get money from the advertising companies.

Once upon a time it was like this. Radio broadcasters seemed to feel that songs and artists would not exist if not for them. There may have been at one point a modicum of truth to that. Once upon a time, record companies could go to radio stations and give them little goodies so they would play their songs. That resulted in the payola scandal back in the day.

In recent years, we have seen self-releases through personal websites that have proven quite effective in raising the profile of an artist to the point where an artist is already famous. Take Metric, for example, which won a number of Junos about two years ago, having not signed a major recording contract and doing all its publicity and sales through the website. It got to the point where radio stations were looking for it because people wanted to hear the band's music. Therefore, one has to question who benefits whom, in terms of whether radio needs the artist or the artist needs radio. For me, I think it is a very symbiotic relationship.

That being said, a few broadcasters appeared in front of the last legislative committee. They said that they would rather pay whole departments year round to erase a piece of music every 30 days and then re-record it, or re-download it, rather than pay the access fee, the mechanical right, once. It does not make a lot of business sense to me that someone would pay employees to sit there and erase every 30 days so they do not have to pay it and then re-record it, or re-download it so they have access to it, just to avoid the one time only payment for access, the purchase of the piece. They then went on to say that they had to pay for it twice. No, they pay for access, they pay for use fee.

Content is king. We have creators and it seems the government members have the idea that a hit song, any song, just appears out of the blue, that artists sit on a bus, get an idea for a great song and write it on the back of a ticket, or on a napkin. Napkins seem to get lambasted in the House quite a bit. Great ideas have been created on napkins. Then the song ends up on the radio.

Let us look at it from a different perspective, one that the government seems to understand, the perspective of a small business. An entrepreneur has an idea, a song. The entrepreneur develops the idea. The entrepreneur needs capital investment for both prototype and to move from concept to reality, which is the demo phase. This costs an artist a lot of money, either in renting recording space or in buying the equipment. This includes hiring individuals, a project manager, staff, equipment, facilities, delivery systems, marketing, packaging and there is distribution and the product of these sales.

Artists need to be remunerated. Artists depend on the back end to get remunerated. The back end is things like the mechanical rights, $21 million, private copying $30 million. It is not a question of choosing piracy over remuneration. It is a question of developing a bill that respects the rights of creators and ensures they are remunerated for the work that they do.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the creators. The minister worked to ensure there was a balance between the creator and the users. Modernizing the act was key to updating our laws and meeting international standards.

Would the member elaborate on how important it is to have us in step with international standards?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is hugely important to have a Copyright Act that is in step with other countries. Many of our artists have their works played in other countries and, due to treaties that exist between Canada and the music-collecting agencies here and abroad, the money that is made by our artists in other countries is collected and sent back. It is important, but one cannot look at elements of this bill that do work and ignore the parts that do not, and there are elements that do work. We are looking to find the balance in what works for everybody, not at the cost of creators.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, unlike some of the members across the way, actually understands what it is to be an artist, and that is what is missing here. Artists do their work not because of the pay they get, often, though a few do; they do it because they have a passion for it. It defines who we are as a country.

My question to the member is this. Why does he think the government forewent the opportunity to support artists, particularly the $21 million he is referring to, which would go directly to support artists? This bill would take that way. Why does he think the government did that?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot read minds, unfortunately. It would be a great skill, and I sure as heck would do a whole lot better in this place. All we can do is assume.

I think that the business aspirations of the government took over from the need and the focus on what copyright is. Arts and culture is big business. We have heard many times how it contributes $85 billion to the economy. Why it chose to side with big business as opposed to artists, with the same result, is beyond me. It thinks that if there is no piracy, artists will get more money. In the computer world, the minute any kind of lock is established, somebody is working to get around it. Will we ever end piracy? It would be a wonderful thing. I do not know if we will. To take away money on that hope does not make a whole lot of sense to me.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is a very famous Canadian artist himself, so he knows what he is talking about.

I am thinking of independent artists in my area, Guilty About Girls and FERA, and venues like the Libra Room. I am thinking about how they are going to be affected by this bill and what changes the member thinks should be made to this act to make them benefit more fully.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, independent artists like the two he mentioned depend on the Copyright Act to protect their work, so they can sell it in a way that works for them. All the different little revenue streams that artists access, such as private copying, mechanical rights and user fees by broadcasters, go to making sure an artist can, one, live and, two, continue to create.

This bill strikes a lot of that with the vague premise that because piracy is going to end, artists will get more money. The revenue streams that exist now were developed over a number of years and had nothing to do with piracy. They were ways of making these small businesses, these entrepreneurs, more self-sufficient and able to gain more money from the work they do.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I want to take just a moment to congratulate a constituent of mine by the name of Sandra Benedetto, who did the Sporting Life walk this weekend to raise money for cancer research. She raised a lot of money, and I just wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate her and some of her neighbours for taking on that initiative.

We are back here yet again talking about copyright reform. This is something we have been doing a lot. We did it in the last Parliament and we resumed it in this Parliament. It was one of the mandates, one of the things we earmarked in our throne speech as being extraordinarily important to the economy.

As members know, the government has been focused on jobs and the economy since it was first elected in 2006. We knew, as we went through the global economic downturn, that we had to start modernizing a number of the things that were holding back the economy. Of course, the Copyright Act was one of those pieces of legislation that was holding back our economy. We knew Canada had some international responsibilities that we were not able to live up to because Parliament was unable to modernize the Copyright Act.

I am very excited that we are at a point where we are actually seeing progress on this and that very soon a modernized Copyright Act will make it through this place and hopefully through the Senate, and Canadian creators, producers and those who create wealth and jobs in this country can continue to do that and continue to have the confidence that their government will support them and that legislation will be in place to help make sure they can continue to prosper.

I had a great opportunity this weekend to visit the Toronto International Film Festival, which had what was called the Next Wave film festival for Ontario's young filmmakers. It was a collection of the finalists from across the country. It was young filmmakers who were given the task of creating short five- or six-minute films in all kinds of different categories.

I cannot tell members how impressed I was by the quality of the productions I saw there. I am even more impressed that two constituents of mine made it to the finals, Joseph Procopio, a grade 12 student, and his two sisters in another category, Susan and Katherine. They won in their category. I want to congratulate them, as well.

I bring up the Toronto International Film Festival and our young creators because it is one of the things that helps define the city of Toronto and helps to define Vancouver. The importance cannot be understated of the entertainment industry to both Toronto and Vancouver, and to smaller towns across this country, for the hundreds of thousands of jobs that this sector creates.

This sector has been asking us for increased protections, not only so that we could live up to the international treaties we have signed but so that the works and the investments they put in could actually be protected in this country. That is what this bill would do. This bill would enable or increase some of the protections that the industry has been requesting for the longest time.

When we talk about large films, often we talk about the stars. A couple of years ago in my riding, in my hometown of Stouffville, one of the final episodes of the West Wing came to town. They were pretending my hometown was New Hampshire. Everybody was excited to see Jimmy Smits there as the Democrat nominee, but what struck us most was the hundreds of other people who were in support of the production, the hairstylists, carpenters, electricians and security personnel who were there. These are the people who are part of these productions, and these are jobs across this country, hundreds of thousands of jobs that are at stake if we do not actually get our act together.

Now 400 film, television and interactive media companies across Canada represent 130,000 jobs, and that is $5.2 billion. They support this legislation. They support it because they know it is the right thing to protect them. It is the right thing to protect our producers, creators and the people who actually create wealth and jobs in this country.

Who else supports this legislation? There are the 38 multinational software companies, including Corel, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Apple, IBM and Intel, and 300 of Canada's business associations and boards of trade support this legislation. The students of 25 universities across Canada support this legislation. The entertainment software industry, representing 14,000 jobs, supports the legislation and is wondering why it has taken so long to get the legislation passed.

When we talk about the process, until recently, until we brought the budget forward, I do not know of any other piece of legislation that has received more input than this particular piece of legislation, over two Parliaments. We have heard from hundreds of witnesses. We have heard dozens of speeches in this place. It became almost ridiculous, on the opposition side, that they were actually recycling the same members and some of the same speeches two and three times on this particular piece of legislation. That is how ridiculous it became, the effort to try to stop us focusing on the economy.

We are not just seeing it on this particular piece of legislation, unfortunately. We are seeing it on a whole host of legislation, which is targeted toward improving the economy, creating jobs and helping bring even greater investment to this country. What we see from the opposition, time and time again, whether it be on this legislation or on the government's economic action plan, is that its main focus is not to help Canadian business, not to help Canadian consumers and not to help those who invest in this country and create wealth in this country. Its main job, it seems, is to do whatever it possibly can to try to get to this side of the House.

That is all it cares about. Its members will say anything, they will do anything, they will misrepresent the truth any way they possibly can, in the hopes that Canadians will not pay attention. That is one of the massive disrespects that side has done with respect to this particular piece of legislation.

We have heard from the opposition that students would be visited by the copyright police and their notes would be somehow gathered up and burned because of this piece of legislation.

Of course, that is not true. It has never been true. It will never be true. The legislation would do no such thing. In fact, through this updated legislation we would actually provide even more help to our students. However, we would protect the content producers as well. By ensuring that digital locks are respected we would be protecting our creators. That is what this legislation would do.

We are also going to go after those people, the enablers, who take the hard work of our creators and of our artists and then put it over the Internet. Those are people who absolutely provide no benefit, who basically steal from the creators. The legislation would update that and would ensure we go after those people.

Our notice and notice, which is another important piece of the legislation, would also help ensure that those creators' copyright is not being infringed.

Ultimately, what would the legislation do? The legislation would bring more investment to this country. It would bring more opportunity. It would protect the people who have worked so hard to create all the things we use, be it an album or a piece of music, be it an artist like these two young students I talked about. It would facilitate even greater investment in our economy.

It is about time this Parliament passed this piece of legislation, because our creators have been waiting a very long time. One of the things we heard from them is that the Canadian culture is strong. It can compete with anybody. All they need is the protection in place from the government to protect their hard work. That is what this copyright legislation would do. I hope the opposition will join with this side of the House and continue to focus on jobs and the economy and get this legislation passed as soon as possible.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Since he is convinced that this bill will protect Canadian jobs in this sector, in both music and publishing, can he provide us with any arguments that illustrate how this bill will in fact protect Canada's music and publishing industry?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, am I confident that this legislation will help create jobs and help maintain jobs? I am confident that this piece of legislation, along with the economic action plan that we brought in, will help create even more jobs.

Obviously, the record is there: 750,000 net new jobs have been created in this country through the economic action plan. Constantly, we see that the opposition members want to vote against that. They are so desperate to divide this country that they actually go to foreign countries to talk down Canadian jobs.

In December of this year, four of the top five artists were Canadians. The largest film festival in the world is the Toronto International Film Festival. On this side of the House, we understand the importance of arts and culture. It is responsible for billions of dollars in investment. It is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs.

We have confidence in our artists, musicians, and the people who create motion pictures and TV shows. We know that they can compete with anybody. All they are asking for is that their creations and the works that they worked hard to create are protected, and that we open up even more markets for them around the world. That is what this legislation does.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we have all spoken admiringly about cultural groups and the entertainment industry. We recognize the importance they play in the jobs that are created. We want to do what we can to preserve those jobs.

The member made reference to the fact that this legislation does nothing in terms of university students. I would like him to provide clarification on that. A good number of university students are following the debate on this legislation. There is a genuine concern that the information that they garner from their classrooms and their studies will be attacked in part by this legislation, if it passes. There are time limits for how long they will be able to retain certain information from the classroom.

Can the member, on behalf of the government, provide assurances to university students across Canada that in no way do they have to worry about disposing of information that they collect from the classroom?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, we provided that assurance. The bill provides that assurance. The only people who are questioning that are of course the opposition members in a desperate attempt to divide Canadians.

According to the bill, if a student is doing distance education at home and the professor shows a movie as part of the course in the classroom, should that student at home be able to take that movie and use it forevermore when the student in the class is not allowed to do that? Should the two students be treated equally? Absolutely.

However, will the notes that students take while in class be seized, as the opposition has stated? No. Will they be able to use those 30 years from now if they so desire? Yes. Will any not copyrighted information still be left in the possession of our students? Yes, of course it will.

The bill ensures that any copyrighted material is not used adversely against the people who work hard to create it. It evens out the balance between those who study at home and those who are studying in classrooms. That is why 25 student associations across the country support the bill.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is now at report stage after years of debate. One of the things that we keep saying about this copyright bill and its predecessors, in the form of Bill C-32 and before that in 2004-05, is that times change. Technology changes swiftly. The first time I spoke about this legislation in the House was in 2005 when Twitter and Facebook did not exist. They were not part of the popular culture by any stretch.

As a result of technology changing all the time, we find ourselves in a position where sometimes the argument varies. We have been debating this issue for 10 or 15 years. The last time amendments were made was in 1997. Because of the shifting sands and the scope of the argument that we are making, we should be debating this quite often. The debate today will take a different form than what it would have been five or six years ago.

Modernizing the Copyright Act should stand the test of time. It is essential that it be neutral and balanced. It should also be flexible enough in that it can apply to the many technologies that are with us today and will be in the future. These include social media, technologies in the education field, including books, digital or not, and the dissemination of any type of information for profit. In the artistic world, this includes works of art such as songs or movies. My hon. colleague brought up the video gaming industry. That is a prime example of how we need good laws on the books in order for it to protect its property.

All the stakeholders that have been mentioned generally support the bill but they also say that it needs to be changed, that amendments need to be made. No major changes were proposed within the committee structure. That is unfortunate because there seems to be some legitimate claims to this. I will give the House the illustration that I spoke about in my question earlier.

Take the education exemption. Material used for the purpose of education is exempted from copyright. That in and of itself any Canadian would understand. Any person in the world would understand that copyright material can be used to build upon education.

Artists and others base their work on someone else's work. There is nothing wrong with that. That is the whole point of being involved in the world of music and movies. There is nothing new under the sun so therefore we must protect some of this at its core.

When it gets to the point where someone's art or someone's creation is exploited, allowing people to generate money from hard work by someone else, without adding anything to it, without fundamentally changing it and building upon his or her own artistic merits, then we have problems. That is where this legislation comes in.

Let us take a look again at that education exemption. As a result of it being such a blanket exemption, a lot of issues will have to be determined by the courts to see whether the law is being broken. Sometimes there could be a situation in education where someone is breaking the law. Material is being taken and is not only being used for classroom purposes, but it is being dispersed to a wider field. That work is therefore being exploited for profit, or the ability of that piece of work to make a profit is being diminished, and it is quite obvious.

Witnesses told us that we could put in a multi-step test. Even though there is a blanket exemption on education, as responsible people, as legislators, as lawmakers, we could take the material before a court. A judge could look at it and put it to a test. If people feel that a university has used their material to affect their ability to make a profit, it should be put to the test: does it fulfill the requirements of one to six options? Many jurisdictions around the world have done this. There is just no test in the middle between blanket exemption and copyright infringement. There is nothing wrong with putting a filter there to see if it could work. Otherwise the courts will have to decide.

Let us look at another example of Bill C-11. If we look at the logic of it, we have to try to understand why it was written this way, without certain limitations and without certain ways of looking at the unforeseen.

Many jurisdictions around the world went through the same process before we did. They put digital locks or technical protection measures in place and said, “that is that, we will be fine, there are no exemptions to it”. If we digitally lock something, that is it.

However, jurisdictions like the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia realize that we end up roping some of the laws we have placed into our own legislation. Here is an example. Within Bill C-11, if people download a song, they have the right to share this piece of music among other ways of listening. They could listen to it on an iPod or they could download it from iTunes and put it on to a CD. How do they listen to a piece of music that they purchased? They have bought a piece of music that they should be allowed to share. However, if a company, such as Apple, decides to digitally lock it, the music cannot be shared among one's other devices.

If I downloaded a book that was digitally locked, I could not transport it to the new iPad I bought, because I went from a reader that was built years ago. I could not transfer it because of digital locks. According to the law, I should be able to do so. I could get an app that converts it, but the problem is, the right to convert now belongs, not to the people of Canada, not to the government, not to this legislature, but to Apple. I do not mean to specifically pick on Apple. It could be Microsoft or it could be any other corporation.

We need to look at measures by which we could circumvent this when it comes to education. For example, a teacher might get a movie to show the English as a second language class. What if it is digitally locked for the particular player the teacher has?

We have not specifically looked at what I would consider to be sound amendments in this legislation, like the multi-step process. The multi-step process has to specify that even though there is an exemption involved and it is being used in a classroom setting, by putting it out widely among the public, we are basically cutting into the profit of someone who has copyright of the material. That is a question we need to be asking. That is the fair balance that we feel should be looked at. The committee heard from many witnesses, but very few changes, if any, were made. Nothing was changed in the legislation.

I think that international pressure probably came to bear and the Conservatives had to put something out, in light of the situation in the United States or even the European Union.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by my colleague. I wonder if he could provide some additional thoughts in regard to the consumer advocate groups or students that might have concerns in regard to the passage of the bill. There was a heightened sense of expectation that there would be some amendments to the legislation brought forward, but it did not appear as though that had taken place to any real extent.