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 copyright.

Topics

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I noticed one of the biggest opponents to copyright reform is actually the NDP. I do not know exactly what it is, if it is just that ideologically it is opposed to creating jobs.

As I said in my speech, the video game industry in Quebec is huge. It provides quality jobs for young people who enjoy not only the products, but enjoy creating new products for the future. The business model relies on these locks.

Perhaps I should read from some of the supporters. The Entertainment Software Association of Canada has said that the government is delivering on a promise to modernize outdated law and support new and innovative models. It considers that this legislation will provide a framework to allow creators and companies to distribute their work in a manner that best suits them. It said, “We strongly support the principles underlying this bill...”

It does because it supports freedom and choice, not only for businesses but for consumers and innovators. That is the side of the table we are going to be standing at.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I must confess that at times I can get really stuck on an issue and I am stuck on this issue in terms of what it is the government is actually doing.

If a constituent of his or mine goes to a store, acquires a digitally locked music disc, goes home and decides to make another copy of his or her favourite song, in essence, if this bill passes, the individual will have broken the law and will be a criminal. You are making criminals out of individuals who decide to copy something for personal use that has a digital lock on it, even though they purchased it and want to use it on a different format for personal use. Why are you criminalizing that sector of our constituents?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I would ask all members to direct their questions through the Speaker. I do not think I am criminalizing anyone.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I would agree with my colleague that he is stuck on this point because he has had the question answered numerous times. We are looking at a balance. Certain creators need protection for their work and, frankly, when they own the intellectual property of the copyright, it is their choice. It is not the choice of somebody buying the product what form he or she wants it in.

Let us say, for example, I am a creator and I choose to sell something that is locked. It is like if my colleague had a store of suits and decided that he would lock the store when there was nobody around. He could choose to lock it or unlock it but if he unlocked the store perhaps people would come into his store and take all of his suits. With that business model, unfortunately, he would go bankrupt.

There are creators who require that their products be sold with digital locks. The consumer can decide to buy it or not to buy it. That is what it is about. Unfortunately, we have tried to answer my colleague's questions over and over again but he still does not get it and I am sure he will ask it again.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

May 15th, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-11, is a bill that I have worked on for some time. In fact, previous to this Parliament, I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, a position I quite enjoyed. I had the opportunity to work hand in hand with the minister and the Minister of Industry in the crafting of this bill.

This bill was undertaken with more consultation than any bill in history to the best of my knowledge. We had consultations in Canadian cities right across the country. In fact, there was even a consultation held in Peterborough, largely with members from outside of Peterborough, but folks from Peterborough were there as well. We had the opportunity to view some 8,000 online submissions for the bill as well. We undertook extensive consultations in consideration of this bill.

One of the comments by a witness who appeared before the committee that stands out for me was from the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, the hon. Perrin Beatty. As members know, the Chamber of Commerce has been calling on governments for more than a decade to update Canada's copyright laws and his quote really stood out for me. Perrin Beatty said to the committee,“Why throw out the good in pursuit of the perfect?”. That is what the opposition members would like. They would like a good bill thrown out because they know in their hearts there is no such thing as a perfect copyright bill. It does not exist.

Copyright law is about balance. It is about a balance between those who wish to purchase items and those who have created items. That is a relationship that will forever be changing and redefined. However, we establish the laws and boundaries that should dictate that relationship and we try to do so in a manner that is balanced and fair to all concerned.

However, that does not mean that all concerned will agree with every aspect of the bill but it does mean that we are striving to maintain a balance that respects everyone involved. That is what the government has worked to do. I am proud to say that the government is moving ahead with copyright modernization that addresses the challenges and opportunities of the Internet and other digital technologies and will bring Canada's copyright laws up to international standards.

We have a copyright law right now. We signed onto international treaties in 1997. The Liberal Party was in government then. I am sure members remember those dark days when the Liberal Party was in power and it would sign international treaties with no intention of actually fulfilling them. Well, it did that with the Copyright Act as well.

I hear a member of the NDP shouting across the aisle. I am going talk to the NDP House leader because he has spoken against that kind of action in this House and I commend him for his constant lobbying and efforts to bring a new level of decorum to this House. I will just make him aware that one of his members is not holding up to his own very high standards. I am sure we will get that looked after.

When it comes to our international obligations, we have taken them seriously. We want Canada to be inside the tent. We want to be with those nations that have stood up for copyright holders, creators and industries. We want to create those jobs. This bill is as much about economic stimulus as it is about anything else. It is as much about job creation as it is about protecting copyrighted materials.

With respect to the question from the member for Winnipeg North, I have been watching the debate on television and I have heard the question a number of times, not just from that member but from other members of his party and others. It has a very simple answer. When people purchase something, they purchase it for a specific purpose. The member keeps on talking about a CD and about format shifting something that is not permitted. Although one does not buy a legal right to format shift it, the member is making the argument that one should be allowed to format shift that piece of copyrighted material even though one did not pay for that right.

My colleague just used the example of a clothing store owner. It is like going to a clothing store, buying a pair socks and then going back and saying, “By the way, I have decided it was not socks that I needed. What I really wanted was shoes, so I am just going to take these, I am going to format shift from socks to shoes and I am not going to pay anything because it was all for my feet”. That is the argument that we are hearing.

Time and time again, we heard from professional witnesses who came in and extolled the virtues of this bill. Did we hear from others who had other opinions? Yes, we did. The NDP members had lots of support for what we called an iPod tax and they called a levy. They had lots of support for placing additional charges on consumer electronic devices. Of course the debate was not honest at the outset. They were saying that it would just be for MP3 players and that it would be a nominal fee even though they applied to the Copyright Board to charge a fee of up to $75 per device. At committee I told them that the technology had already passed them by with respect to those devices. I said that they were antiquated technologies.

On the new technologies, things like smart phones and car stereos, the NDP members initially scoffed and asked why they would want to put anything on car stereos. Well, I have a car outside that has 60 gigabytes of memory in it. It can actually store movies and music. However, I would never store music and movies while I am driving.

I oppose any kind of fee. The other problem with what the NDP members were proposing is that they were proposing a fee on devices like mine, a BlackBerry proudly made in Canada, great Canadian technology, but it would only go to one single medium, music. It would not go to photographers, or film creators or artists. It would only go to music.

This device that is capable of communication, emails, photos, movies, any kind of online activity as far as viewing and receiving information and may also be able to store music, but what the NDP members are proposing is a levy on that device just for music, that would only go to musicians, and consumers would have to pay even though they have already purchased the materials.

If I am buying a licence from, for example, iTunes and, with that, I receive a licence to make five additional copies, and this may also answer some of the questions that we have heard, I am buying an agreement that I can put that song on a device but also on up to four more devices. When people buy a licence from iTunes they are able to format shift that and store that on multiple devices.

The NDP and some of the other proponents made a proposal, which the Liberal Party was very strong on, as was former member, Pablo Rodriguez, and it was something that we voted against because we disagreed with it. Their proposal was to increase the price on devices and we disagreed on that. There were other areas where we did agree but this clearly was an area where we disagreed. That is why the hon. Perrin Beatty, who I referenced earlier, said that it would be silly to throw out a really good bill because we disagree with a certain aspect of it.

In the meantime, billions of dollars are being siphoned away from creators in this country, from the creative economy. Wealth destroyers, companies whose business it is to literally destroy the wealth of industries, are operating in this country illegally, pushing out pirated copies of music and movies and other things. This bill provides the tools needed to crack down on the wealth-destroying operations in this country. It is high time that we did it.

Graham Henderson of Music Canada came before our committee and gave a fantastic presentation. It was unfortunate that we had a procedural vote at the time but he spoke emphatically in support of this bill. The entertainment software industry emphatically supported this bill. The film industry said that a billion dollars a year were going missing that should be invested in jobs, movies, new creations and new products that Canada can be so proud of.

We need this bill, which is why I am proud to stand behind it and vote in favour of it tonight. It is time to end 15 years of debate on copyright legislation.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague’s speech. I think we could have a long discussion on the basis of what he told us. What he told us is just fantastic.

When you go to a record store and you buy music, you buy it of course on some kind of medium, such as a CD. People do not go to a record store to buy a CD, but to buy music. So it is fair that people think they have the right to copy it onto some other medium for their personal use, so they can listen to it.

Does my colleague think that people go to a record store to buy a CD or to buy music that they want to listen to?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree wholeheartedly with what the member just said. We are not buying that medium. We are buying what is stored on it. I agree completely. Legally we are also purchasing a licence to consume that media in the format we are purchasing it in.

I mentioned iTunes and how it allows people to make up to five copies of a piece. Today, Blu-ray provides opportunities for us to make what is called digital copies. We can take it off the Blu-ray and put it on our computer or on another storage device we have in the house. The industry is changing, and this is really a consumer-to-business relationship. It is evolving and it is working.

I have heard this argument many times. There is an amusement park just north of Toronto in the city of Vaughan, called Canada's Wonderland. Imagine making an investment in this wonderful amusement park and then have people say a fence cannot be built around it because people should be able to come and go as they please. Who would ever pay admission to go to this park?

That is what a technical protection measure is. People make the investment, they create something, they want to be able to protect it so they get paid for it. That is why a technical protection measure is needed.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I am not too sure about the member's analogy. It may be a bit off base, a bit biased possibly.

What the member really caught me on was his pronouncement that Bill C-11 is the major economic job creation program of the Conservative government.

Does my colleague expect the number of jobs to be created over the next year to exceed the number of jobs the budget destroyed in terms of the 19,000-plus civil service jobs? Is this the only economic stimulus that would generate thousands of jobs in the future? Is that how he envisions Bill C-11?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, that is just a remarkable question. I have some respect for the member. He may in fact camp under that desk, because he is here all the time. I would have thought that, for somebody who is here so much, he would actually know what all the government's plans are with respect to the economy.

Our plans are multi-faceted. We are working to create jobs in every sector. If the member went through budget 2012 or economic action plan 2012, he would see all forms of measures in there to create jobs.

If the member had the opportunity, he would have attended all the copyright meetings, because I can see he is keen on the file. The entertainment software industry said hundreds of millions of dollars are going missing. The film industry said more than $1 billion a year is going missing, just in Canada. The music industry said more than $900 million is going missing. That is $900 million that was taken away from artists, from recording studios, from marketing, from all of the operations and from every store that sold these items.

That is where job creation comes in. The member cannot just say we are destroying jobs by the fact that Parliament cannot agree on a copyright act, so just put more people in the public service. Is that what the member is really suggesting?

We protect jobs. We make sure we outline the rules. This copyright bill does that. It would create jobs. It would be good for Canada.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Before resuming debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, Citizenship and Immigration; the hon. member for Nickel Belt, Natural Resources; the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Transport.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Louis-Hébert.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on Bill C-11. As we discuss this bill and listen to the different speakers, I get the sense that we are doing so strictly from the perspective of intellectual property as we knew it 20 or 25 years ago. In other words, there is a gap, and we have to find a legal way of plugging that gap. That is the sum of it. Having said that, this is a new age.

The digital age is in the process of completely redefining the way we see things, our relationship with others, and the way we buy and consume products. When we consider copyright, we must do so through this new lens. Otherwise, we will quite simply be left behind. It would be as if we were trying to apply old ways of doing things to a new world. And if we move in that direction, we are sure to fail.

Of course, on the other side of the House, the Conservatives will say that copying is wrong. Of course, copyright must be respected. However, the most important thing with this bill is to strike a real balance. We frequently talk about artists and consumers, but we often forget that there is somebody between the two called a distributor. This intermediary is often forgotten. In certain cases, it is even companies whose business it is to buy copyright and to market it.

We often talk about protecting artists and ensuring they have an income, which is very noble, I might add. We also talk about the rights of consumers, but we forget that the company that is trying to protect the products’ distribution is the real beneficiary when it comes to this legislation. Very little is said about the distributor. Clearly these companies are losing a lot of money. Obviously, when copying is involved, money is lost. However, that does not necessarily mean that each copy would have meant a purchase in the real world.

Nevertheless, everybody needs to be compensated appropriately. And on that point, I come back to the artists, who, with this bill, will lose tens of millions of dollars in compensation. I am not thinking of the richest artists, but certainly of the artists who are the least well off.

It is important to look at this in a global context, especially from a legal point of view, because what we are doing right now is laying one of the first stones in the legislative framework of the digital world.

The compact disc industry is facing its demise. Why? Because, even though the medium was not very expensive, distributors tried to sell CDs for the same price, if not more, than a technology that was more expensive to produce. The upshot was that as soon as there was a less expensive alternative, copying became par for the course. Little by little, revenues dropped, and despite everything, new business models emerged. The success of iTunes attests to this very fact.

Companies that distributed the works were strongly opposed to the development of that kind of new model. It can definitely be hard to adapt to that kind of change, but adaptation is good. We cannot expect to do exactly the same thing with digital technology that we are doing now or have done in past decades.

Digital locks are one of the thorniest issues in this proposed legislation.

This is not about the rights of creators or consumers. It is about the rights of those who distribute works of all kinds. It seems to me that locks are a bit heavy-handed if the goal is to protect copyright. What this bill protects is distribution rights, not copyright. I would have liked to see a better balance between copyright, distribution rights and consumer rights. That is why the NDP suggests greater flexibility with respect to locks in cases of material for personal use, and only then. We have to be specific about that.

As I pointed out in my question a few minutes ago, people do not go to a record store to buy a CD, just as they did not buy LPs or cassettes back in the day. What they are buying is music.

It is all well and fine to say that there is licence upon purchase, but what does the consumer understand by that? What are people saying about this licence? Go ask people on the street whether they are buying the right to take a CD and put it in the player. They would never say that. However, they will say that what they are buying is the right to listen to an excellent album wherever they want, whenever they want. They will tell you that every time, but they will never say they are buying just the CD.

That is why I think that in a way, the government is going a bit too far when it comes to these locks. What will more restrictive locks accomplish? I fear they will prevent creation. Indeed, people will be turned off and will not want to buy works that are expensive and difficult to access and that they have to pay for three, four or five times in order to be able to listen to them as they please, in other words, at home, at the cottage, in their car and so on. Where will this take us?

Some might say that I am exaggerating, but I am not too far off the mark. The important thing is to restore balance between access, use and distribution. That is the core message I want people to take away from my speech. I believe that we must respect international treaties, but are we respecting international treaties or the needs of certain international distribution companies?

In my opinion, we first need to restore the balance that should exist in an ecosystem. First of all, we do not live in a market, but rather in a society. People have aspirations. Students in particular come to mind. It is absurd to say that course notes should disappear a few days after the course ends. It makes no sense. Personally, I keep everything and I still have my course notes from when I was in university. Those notes would have disappeared a long time ago in the digital world under the bill currently before us. However, it can sometimes be useful to reuse these notes and have all this information close at hand, depending on the subject, of course.

There is something wrong here. The government says that many meetings were held and that the bill is the product of extensive consultation. The committee heard from many people in several parliaments. The government repeats this ad nauseam. Consultation is all well and good, but I have to wonder if the government listened.

Fundamentally, the question we need to ask is whether the government really listened. It can hear something, but if it does not listen and does not want to do what people say, it is destined to draft legislation that is more flawed than it should be. We will never create perfect legislation; we all know that. But we can always make it better. We had plenty of time, and many people gave their opinions on this. So why not adjust it for everyone's benefit, rather than for the benefit of just a few?

We currently have all the information needed to ensure that this cornerstone of the digital world is well made, well placed and stable. It is especially important to listen to what people have to say. That will result in better legislation.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary said earlier that the NDP wanted to vote against the bill because, as usual, it votes against jobs. I would really have liked to respond, but since I cannot, I will direct my remarks to my colleague.

I would like him to elaborate on the good explanation he already gave about the need to strike a balance between the rights of the public, the rights of authors and the rights of distributors so that the member opposite will understand why we will not vote for this bill in its present form.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

The bottom line is that we want everyone to be satisfied with this legislation. We want creators to get their fair share. That means that they must be properly compensated for the work they do. We obviously want distributors to be compensated for their work, and we also want consumers to have access to works at a reasonable cost.

Naturally, if we cannot satisfy everyone, it will lead to an imbalance in the legislation. In my opinion, this imbalance will reduce creators' economic and commercial interest in producing. They will instead find a job as a taxi driver, for example, as was recently suggested.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Louis-Hébert for the different angle he brought to this debate.

During his speech, particularly at the end, he began talking about the government listening. Did the government listen to us? Did it listen to the people and the experts? I see that, in the House, the majority of the young people, who were born into technology, are on our side, both as members and as assistants. So we have a lot of experts with us and we recommend them. It is a different angle that I wanted to bring. The youth know a lot about this issue, and perhaps we should listen a little more to them.

I am quite sure my colleague can say more about technology, and about youth and this bill.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.

Actually, this is an issue where the elder members—and I am one of them—do not dominate. The young people are the ones who use these technologies, who master them, drive changes in them and think them up. We are incredibly lucky to have a lot of young people in this Parliament. This is the youngest Parliament in history. As we build this digital society—because that is really what we are doing with technologies and the Internet—young people deserve not just their place, but a prominent place in the study of this type of issue, as my colleague said.