House of Commons Hansard #124 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member needs to wake up and realize the reality of today.

The producers of copyrighted material are not there to frustrate the consumer. They want to sell their products with minimum impact on the consumer. If the member has been in Walmart buying, for example, a movie, he knows that the movie with the digital lock is available in multiple format, a format, perhaps, on a DVD for a television, but also in a format that people can load right on to their iPad. There is no longer a need to break the digital lock.

When it comes to music, there are many CDs out there that do not have any digital lock at all. Of course, for personal use, the consumer is welcome to simply transcribe the format for his own personal device as long as there is not a digital lock.

I do not know why the member is trying to exaggerate the circumstances as they exist and why he does not recognize that the producers of content actually want consumers to buy their products. That is the reality of the new marketplace.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I heard the hon. member state his case and I heard the question from the gentleman on the other side earlier about the digital lock.

I have a niece who is a professional singer-songwriter. She depends on selling her music to make a living. There does not seem to be an understanding on the other side of the importance of protecting her intellectual property, the music and the songs that she writes and sings.

I would just ask the member whether this legislation would protect her and protect her property in a reasonable way.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was an excellent point and the point I made in my first response. We are not talking about big corporations here. We are talking about Canadians who create content and earn their living from that. That is how they feed their families. They should be protected, and that is what the bill would do. It finds that middle ground, that balance between the rights of the creators of content and the consumer.

The opposition members want to ramp this up but they are doing an injustice to the creator, Canadians who contribute to our industries. They are ramping it up unnecessarily when they know the consultation that has gone on with the bill, they know the support that it has and they should really be voting for the bill and standing on the side of Canadians and content creators.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House and speak to this important bill.

Many of us in the NDP know that our party has been at the forefront of r pushing for innovative and effective legislation through the work of colleague from Timmins—James Bay and others who have painstakingly committed to extensive consultations, both in the confines of Parliament and out across the country. They and are our team have reached out to all stakeholders, artists, academics, students, producers and all people in the industry.

Our goal all along has been to produce the most innovative and effective copyright legislation we can. Unfortunately, the government seems to have issue with the concept of innovation, not just in this area but, frankly, all across the board. While it makes reference to wanting modern legislation, we know, and many stakeholders have indicated, that the legislation has gaping problems.

What we have suggested is that we sit down and go through these gaps, that we close the gaps, that we solve the problems and that we retract the problems created as a result of the legislation, problems that were not there before. That is something we have been very consistently saying. We want to work at this and are continuing to work at this.

We are very disappointed that the government pressed for closure of the debate, a habit that it has shown on many critical debates in this House. it is an action that limits not only the voices of Canadians in deciding their future on various issues, but makes for legislation that does not work, legislation that will cause greater problems, certainly in terms of copyright within the artistic community and the academic community. It might benefit some but most Canadians will face some real challenges as a result of the legislation.

We believe that copyright modernization is long overdue but this bill has too many glaring problems. In certain cases it even creates problems where none existed.

New Democrats believe that copyright laws in Canada can balance the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to copyright content. We have made it clear all along that the way we would consider possible amendments to the bill would be to create a fair royalty system for creators. However, as it stands, Bill C-11 wipes away millions of dollars in revenue for artists.

When we look closer at the issue, it appears that all Canadian attempts at copyright reform in recent years have had very little to do with creating a regime that would balance the rights of creators and the public, but rather have been an attempt to satisfy the demands of American large content owners, such as movie studios, music labels, video game developers and others.

What we are asking as New Democrats is: When will Canadians have copyright legislation that works for them? We believe that copyright laws in Canada can balance the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content. The bill would grant s a range of new access privileges but would not increase opportunities for artists' remuneration.

This new playing field will profoundly affect the ability of artists to survive. The copyright modernization act essentially gives with one hand while it takes away with the other. While the bill contains a few concessions for consumers, they are, unfortunately, undermined by the government's refusal to compromise on the single most controversial copyright issue in this country, that being the digital lock provisions.

In the case of long distance education, for example, people in a remote, isolated community would have to burn their school notes after 30 days. That is hardly an improvement or an appropriate use of copyright law.

People in remote communities across northern Manitoba depend on access to education and accessibility to materials. This is a clear necessity, as we New Democrats have said. The government claims to be on the side of training and education. However, the legislation would hinder that access, particularly for people who already face so many obstacles in accessing education and materials they need. The legislation would set them and our regions back.

We have proposed removing sections of the copyright modernization act that would make criminals out of everyday Canadians who would break digital locks for personal and non-commercial use.

We do support the lessening of penalties for those who are responsible for breaking copyright law. This would prevent the excessive use of problematic lawsuits against ordinary citizens, like what we have seen in the U.S.

The Conservatives unfortunately have ignored expert opinions raised in committee and the findings of their own copyright consultations in 2009. As a result, they have arrived at flawed legislation that may end up doing more harm than good.

New Democrats believe that copyright modernization is overdue, but this bill has too many glaring problems. We will be at the forefront of proposing positive changes and of being part of developing modernized copyright law that is in the best interests of Canadians.

I would also like to share the words of many respected people in their fields, people who know the legislation is flawed and that it will harm producers and users of so many materials that involve the copyright legislation.

Michael Geist, the renowned technology commentator, put it succinctly:

The foundational principle of the new bill remains that anytime a digital lock is used -- whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices -- the lock trumps virtually all other rights...This...means that the existing fair dealing rights [and Bill C-11 rights]...all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device.

The cultural industry has made a statement. It represents over 80 arts and culture organizations across Quebec and nationwide. It argues that the bill may be toxic to Canada's digital economy. It warns that failure to amend the copyright modernization act to ensure fair compensation for Canadian content owners can only lead to a decline in the production of Canadian content and its dissemination domestically and abroad.

Instead of moving forward, instead of being at the cutting edge of innovation, instead of ensuring that our artists, researchers, academics and Canadian industries are able to be part of the future of the digital economy, the government's approach is setting us back.

Unfortunately this is an overall trend with the Conservative government, whether it is on the environment, economic development, education or in an area that I am involved with, women's rights. The government's approach is not to look forward, but rather to look at how we can pull away. In the case of Bill C-11, when so many hours and so much effort has been made to shape the best legislation, the government has unfortunately not produced that.

Finally, I would like to share the message of so many of my colleagues in the NDP. The legislation would set artists back. Artists are the backbone of our country. They are the people who shape our communities, who tell our stories, who bring us together from coast to coast in a country as broad and as wealthy in talent as ours. The reality is we need real legislation that will allow artists to do their work and that allows Canadians to move forward. Unfortunately Bill C-11 is not that legislation.

We hope the government will listen to New Democrats and allow us to do that work.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about being concerned about creators. All of us are concerned about creators.

This is a quote from a group of creators, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. It says:

We congratulate the Government for protect[ing] the creative industries and men and women working in film and television production across Canada....The bill does not provide for the extension of the controversial private copying levy to devices such as ipods, which would have been extremely unpopular with consumers...

Given the fact that we have spent two and a half years debating this legislation, whether it was Bill C-32 or Bill C-11, given the fact that we have received thousands of input, given the fact there was a special legislative committee and given the fact that the bill attempts to balance the rights of consumers and creators, would the hon. member like to comment on the fact that no matter what provisions are in a bill there will always be somebody who will find the bill unsatisfactory? Would my colleague acknowledge that Bill C-11 is a good attempt at balancing that? I expect I know the answer. It is always a balancing act. Regardless, I wish we could just get on with it instead of playing politics with consumers and creators.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, for us, what is important is that we do the job right. What we have said consistently, and as indicated through the efforts of my colleague from Timmins—James Bay and others, is that we would like to do a thorough job. Absolutely, we would like to be time effective, but let us ensure that at the end of the day the legislation that comes out is to the benefit of all Canadians.

I would like to read the words of the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada that noted on the identical bill to C-11, Bill C-32:

If adopted without amendments, the bill tabled in the House of Commons will significantly affect creators' revenues. Moreover, the desired balance between the interests of creators and those of consumers and users is, in our opinion, completely absent.

This is not a balanced bill, and that is what we ask for.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat inspired to get up after hearing the hon. member for Edmonton. It almost seems like it is a black and white situation. We have a situation where he says that there will always be people against these sorts of measures. Of course there will be, but they have absolutely zero recourse.

Let us take a look at the education exemption as a fine example. We have a blanket exemption across the board. What if authors feel the education exemption is being exploited so their work is not being sold in the market? It would take away the ability of authors to sell their products. A multi-step test for the courts to decide whether an author has been infringed upon is the way to go. The government would not even entertain it. That person has been written off as far as any concerns the author may have. This is not a way of listening to the people opposed to this.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that the bill has tremendous gaps, as my colleagues and I have noted.

We are saying we should do the job right. Let us ensure that we close the gaps. We have said that we are willing to make the amendments, to be part of making that positive change, but once again, the government is resorting to closing the debate, ensuring that Canadians are once again silenced on something that is so important to our future.

The final result will be ineffective legislation that will take away revenues from artists and that will set Canadians back when it comes to our involvement in the digital economy. As New Democrats, we believe that is wrong.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I would just like to say that Bill C-11 does not reflect the interests of Canadians, not in the way it will be adopted—since this is the nth time we have seen debate shut down—and not in its content—since it does not consider the consumers, for whom it is important to provide fair dealing.

Can my colleague comment on the use of locks in this context?

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this bill poses a number of problems. For example, in the case of digital locks, we will have many more problems if this bill becomes a reality.

In addition, our party's caucus has a number of young people and other members who are concerned about young people's contribution to Canada. This type of bill makes us take a step back, not move forward. That is why the NDP does not support the Conservative bill.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

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

The bill is returned to the House after extensive review by a legislative committee and the adoption of some technical amendments that will improve it but not alter the important policy balance that has been achieved. However, for those technical amendments, Bill C-11 is essentially the same as Bill C-32, which was being studied during the last Parliament.

Members of the House might remember that Bill C-32 went through 6 hours and 50 minutes of debate in the House, with a total of 17 speeches. In committee, 78 organizations and 122 different individuals appeared over the course of some 20 meetings, which lasted a total of 39 hours. That was a very comprehensive and wide-ranging debate on many of the same issues that have been reintroduced during the discussion around Bill C-11.

The debate on the bill before us now has been even longer and we have heard from even more speakers, with 86 speeches in total as well as numerous interventions. Clearly the House has many views on copyright reform.

The legislative committee also heard from a broad spectrum of interests that had a stake in the modernization of copyright. In February and March, the committee met on 11 occasions and heard from 62 individuals representing various creators, collectives, intermediaries, associations and businesses. They expressed varied and sometimes opposing views on a number of provisions in the bill.

To emphasize the range of views that were represented, we heard from librarians and archivists, broadcasters, directors and film producers, musicians, publishers and authors, educators, lawyers and persons with perceptual disabilities. We also heard from large and small businesses.

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to some of the concerns that we heard concerning copyright reform.

The first relates to concerns we heard about compensation for creators. Some have argued for the expansion of the private copying regime and oppose the new exceptions for consumers. Expanding the private copying regime would increase the cost of new technologies. The government cannot have a strategy of greater access to the Internet and promotion of our digital economy and at the same time support a policy that would increase cost and taxes on new technologies that drive innovation.

The digital economy provides creators with new ways to market their works and find new revenue streams. The bill would provide them with new rights, protections and specific measures to combat the enablers of copyright infringement.

Another concern expressed by some stakeholders is that the fair dealing exception for education may have a detrimental impact on the revenue streams of creators. They propose that fair dealing be constrained rather than rely on the six factors that have been established by the courts to determine what is fair.

I point out that fair dealing is not a blank cheque. It is a long-standing feature of our copyright law that permits individuals and businesses to make certain uses of copyrighted material in ways that do not unduly threaten the interests of copyright owners and which could have significant social benefits, but only if they are fair.

Finally, in summarizing what we heard during the second reading debate and at committee, I point out that the education provisions of the bill received considerable attention and some criticized some of the safeguards that had been put in place to ensure a balance of interest.

The bill introduces new measures aimed at enriching the educational experience. It greatly expands the ability of teachers and students to make use of new digital technologies and of copyrighted materials in the educational context.

For instance, teachers and students will be allowed to use copyrighted material in lessons conducted over the Internet and use legitimately posted material that they find on the Internet for educational purposes. The bill would also adjusts existing educational provisions to make them more technology neutral. The limitations and safeguards in place in relation to these new measures are an essential part of the balance between supporting learning and respecting the legitimate interests of copyright owners.

These matters were discussed extensively at second reading and by the legislative committee, in which we enjoyed a very wide-ranging and thought provoking discussion. In addition to robust debate regarding the private copying regime, fair dealing and the specific education provisions, we heard about the need for technological neutrality and the benefits to consumers.

We are proud this bill would amend the Copyright Act to provide a technology neutral framework that would stand the test of time. We live in an ever-evolving media and technology landscape that requires such a framework moving forward, so we are getting rid of outdated references to flip charts and other technologies to ensure the legislation remains relevant.

Finally, as followers of the copyright debate know, the bill proposes key changes that would benefit consumers. Consumers would have more flexibility to enjoy and manage their legitimately acquired content. Consumers would be allowed to time-shift their programming recorded on television, radio and Internet broadcasts. Consumers would also be allowed to format-shift and make backup copies.

Furthermore, we would be adding parody and satire to fair dealing and the ability for Canadians to create user-generated content. These are important amendments that would increase innovation and consumer choice.

In committee, witnesses agreed with the central premise that has been made time and again in this House. Modernization of Canada's copyright laws is long overdue. Some argued that the balance we have established on the bill before us should be tilted one way; others argued we should go further in the other direction. That is the nature of a bill as complex as this one. Not everyone will get everything they were looking for in the modernized copyright regime. However, moving ahead with the bill will be much better than perpetuating laws that have not been updated in more than a decade.

The bill would deliver a common-sense balance between the rights of consumers and the creative community. Importantly, it would also bring our laws in line with the WIPO Internet treaties.

Bill C-11 would provide for a parliamentary review of the Copyright Act every five years. At that time, Parliament would have the opportunity to review the changes made by the bill, as well as study how well the Copyright Act, as a whole, is serving to balance the needs of creators and users.

However, let us move quickly on passing the bill now, so that consumers and creators can soon benefit from these provisions. I urge hon. members of all parties to join me in voting for third reading so the bill can proceed to the Senate.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member, whom I have the pleasure of working with as a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

My colleague spoke at length, but I would like him to talk a little more about the much-touted provision on education. We know very well that the market for educational books is fairly limited.

How would the market for educational books produced in Canada survive, given this provision? What does he see for the future of companies in the educational book business, the publishing companies? What would the future be like for these publishers, given this provision?

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, of course there are significant education provisions contained in the bill, provisions that would make it easier for teachers to enhance the educational experience for students through a variety of means, technological means, for example, using the Internet to kind of learn on the fly and creatively explore things as they come up, as they are discussed by the class. Of course, this would be covered by the rules around fair dealing. There are six factors that have to be considered when we are talking about fair dealing. Witnesses, during the course of the committee hearings, from time to time forgot about the fact that those six factors existed.

We are also taking measures to better enable the use of distance learning so, for example, a student somewhere in a northern community, in Nunavut, could take part in a classroom discussion that is happening in a classroom in Edmonton, for example, and not be hindered by the rules around the copyright law.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. friend knows, the bill would provide that persons with a perceptual disability could circumvent a digital lock. However, the problem is that they would also, then, have to put it back in its original condition, whether it is software, a DVD or whatever.

For persons with a disability, in many cases, it is hard to imagine how they could get access to the means whereby they could remove a digital lock, let alone put the software or DVD back in its original condition afterward.

Why does my hon. colleague feel the government is insisting on maintaining these provisions, which would not help people with disabilities?

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, of course the hon. member had a chance to hear from individuals before the committee during the testimony. We have taken significant measures in the bill to enhance the ability of those dealing with perceptual disabilities to benefit from copyrighted works in ways that are balanced. Again the key word, as we have said in every discussion throughout the conversation around the bill, is “balance”.

Certainly, people came before the committee. Virtually everybody who came before the committee had something they would change about the legislation. However, the vast majority of the people who came before the committee also said that our copyright law would be better with the passing of the bill and urged us to pass the bill as soon as possible.

I hope we can count on the hon. member and his party to help us do that.