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

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, for the past hour, I have been listening to the hon. members opposite talk about the industry's needs. If they were more transparent—honest might be a better word—they would clarify the fact that when they say industry, they mean the very large distributors. I have a great deal of respect for large distributors, which are a major part of the world economy, but they are talking about helping companies like Sony and Walt Disney. Those are the corporations that will benefit from this bill.

Let me go back to a rather striking example. How can they claim that they are thinking about the industry, when the cultural industry—which includes 80 arts and culture organizations across Quebec and the rest of the country, so from all across Canada—has stated that the bill will be toxic to Canada's digital economy? How can there be 80 major organizations across the country that have come to that conclusion and yet the government is still constantly claiming that it is thinking about the industry?

Certainly some sectors of the industry are perfectly comfortable with this bill, but let me reiterate that major sectors have reached that very harsh conclusion. That does not come from the New Democrats, but rather from a significant portion of the cultural industry, not just distributors. This bill will be toxic to Canada's digital economy.

Those organizations have warned us that if the government fails to amend the copyright modernization bill to ensure that content owners are properly compensated, this will lead to a decline in the production of Canadian content and its dissemination domestically and abroad. We are using the word “dissemination”. These are crisis words, blunt words that, I repeat, are not coming from the “big bad leftists”, as some of our neighbours opposite like to call us, but from people in the cultural industry.

With this kind of reaction from such important industry players, the government should first have the decency to not claim any great success. It should show great respect for the industry's response to the bill and go back to the drawing board until these people believe that the government's proposed legislation will not give rise to something as significant as disseminating Canadian content in Canada and abroad.

In Canada, the government has historically had a hard time fully understanding the cultural industry and its front-line players: creators.

I cannot cover every aspect of this 70-page bill, but I will take a few minutes to talk about one aspect I know well and to provide some historical overview.

We have been lagging behind for far too long with respect to the status of creators in Canada. We are one of the last countries to keep its Copyright Act under the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food. We are one of the last countries to realize that it has been a very long time since the days when artists were reduced to simply performing at agricultural fairs.

Then the government came up with a modernized copyright regime that was one of the worst in the western world.

Let us compare our copyright system with what was being done in Europe in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Here, for example, a songwriter or composer—and this was true everywhere—shared up to 50% of total royalties with a publisher. Consequently, there remained 25% for the songwriter and 25% for the composer. That is generally how it worked. That was quite a common model. And then a few pennies were paid per songrecorded on a widespread format, such as CDs, which are still in use. One of the differences between Canada and Europe was that, in Europe, the author had to be paid for the right to distribute CDs in stores.

If 100,000 copies of an artist's work were made, first it had to be proven that the composer of the musical work and the songwriter had received their few pennies per song, which could add up to a lot if it was a major success. We are not talking about $100,000, but, even if it was a few pennies, that gave them a decent income.

In Canada, however, records could be distributed through merchants, in stores, without paying anything. Up to 20% could be considered “free goods”. That is what the merchants were given for promoting the product, and those “free goods” were exempt from copyright obligations. So 100,000 copies were distributed, but the first 20,000 copies did not generate a cent for the creator, and the other 80,000 copies had to be sold and had to be recorded as having been sold. Ultimately, the creator might receive his meagre 25% for a song recorded on a CD that eventually sold.

That was something like telling a bricklayer to lay bricks at a shopping centre, but that he would not be paid for his work unless the shopping centre was successful and had customers and its tenants were happy and paid their rent. He could do the brickwork at the shopping centre but never get paid. The deep roots of that attitude toward copyright in Canada are evident in the failures of this bill.

I will conclude on this basic attitude because the problem of a toothless copyright regime that has been around for decades underscores a fundamental perception that must absolutely change in Canada. The success of a cultural product stems from something magical that comes from the artist, not from the investor, the broadcaster or the person who—admittedly—may have invested thousands or even millions of dollars in the distribution of an album, a disk or a book. It is the artist who suddenly manages to grasp the most interesting thing that is happening at a particular time and who suddenly finds an audience. When an artist does that, he deserves his copyright.

If we understand that, we can immediately see that attempts in this legislation to protect major broadcasters do not honour the artist’s medium- and long-term need to earn an adequate and decent income from new technologies. Often, people do not really understand that it is the creator's magic that makes the product.

If the major distributors had a magic potion and knew exactly how to produce an artistic product for one million dollars that would sell three million copies, they would do so every day. They attempt this regularly and, often, it does not work out. When it works, it is because there was something magical that came from the creators and had an effect on the public.

Things do not happen magically. Creators invests thousands of hours in practice and rehearsals, rewrite thousands of pages, and spend thousands of hours developing themselves culturally in order to become people who create magic. The fact that we are considering modernizing copyright—and that this is even in the title of the bill—and that the party in power has managed to conduct a smear campaign by conflating the notion of guaranteeing suitable copyright with a tax, represents a dangerous, slippery slope.

In sectors of the industry that require a lot of creativity, the downward spiral has already begun. In video game production, for example, creators are often paid on a per-game basis. Young men and women are approached and asked to put together a beautiful soundtrack in exchange for $1,000. Regardless of its success, whether the video game in question is a hit and sells 75,000 copies, or is a total flop and only sells 200 copies, there is no copyright. That is what is called a buyout; the rights are purchased from the young creator.

That is the fate that awaits creators. Personally, I do not want to live in a world where creators can no longer live off copyright unless they produce a real hit. It means living in a less creative world. I do not need a Rocky 127. In future decades, I want to see creators who create interesting music and arthouse films.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, my colleague just spoke of a downward spiral, and I get the impression that that has certainly been the case of late.

In my opinion, we need experts to tell us what the problems and solutions are, and what steps to take to avoid these slippery slopes.

Does my colleague think that that is what the Conservative Party is doing?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, there are many examples. We need only look so far as the example that was given earlier, namely, the very strong, very clear and very alarming position of 80 large cultural organizations.

Copyright experts are completely opposed to the decisions made in this bill. No, the government has not done its homework. The government must ensure that people who have a profound understanding of the problem are reassured and that they are included in the implementation of the bill, but it has not done so.

It is shameful that this bill, which is so important, has been under consideration for years and yet the results achieved are so mediocre.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

May 15th, 2012 / 4:55 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I really appreciate my colleague's detailed knowledge of the issues involved in the bill. It is a very technical bill, and many of us do not have that level of expertise, but clearly my colleague has a lot of experience in terms of both the European situation and the situation as it relates to Canada.

One of the big issues in the bill is how the digital lock will affect students who are in distance learning or educational facilities. I just wonder what kind of response he has had in his own community to that particular provision. We have heard about all the consultation that took place, but how would it actually impact people and what kind of response did the member get in his own riding?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, focusing exclusively on digital locks is not healthy, particularly when it comes to education, as my colleague pointed out.

We are all aware that this bill could lead to an obligation to completely destroy everything that has been built in a classroom within a very short period of time, perhaps even before the end of the semester. Is that feasible? We all know that it is not. How is it that this measure is still there and that it is going to be implemented? Is this situation really going to become a reality?

My colleague raised an important point. People have spoken about e-learning, for example, which can be an extremely important solution for people who live in remote areas. Right now, many of the current government's decisions are costing remote areas dearly. Ultimately, this is another decision that will ensure that remote areas pay a higher price, and it is a decision of the Conservative Party.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for explaining how copyright works. In my view, this had to be done.

He also put his finger on something else. We often talk about copyright, culture and distribution as if they were specific to big cities. In rural areas, people living in this digital society also clearly consume arts and culture products through Internet access.

Could the hon. member tell me what solutions and improvements that would help authors the government has refused to consider so far?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, we will definitely have to take a sensible and balanced approach to address the issue of distribution networks and platforms. Is there a small percentage that can guarantee sustainability for creators?

We have to stop saying that this is a tax. CD copyright is not a tax, but rather a way of compensating musicians who write songs that we hear on the radio and who make our lives more enjoyable.

So why all of a sudden is any solution applied to new technologies a tax? If we accept this way of seeing things, how can we make sure that successful creators will be able to make a living from their works? We need to move away from this approach that is completely out of step—

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order.

The member for Winnipeg South Centre has the floor.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I am grateful to have the opportunity to take part in today's debate on Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act.

In the 2011 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to reintroduce and seek swift passage of legislation to modernize Canada's copyright law in a way that balances the needs of creators and users. This bill fulfills that promise.

This is the third time that we have tried to introduce this copyright legislation. Thanks to this government, we are finally going to update our act so it is consistent with international standards.

It is the culmination of one of the most extensive consultations that any bill has undergone, with more than 9,000 Canadian citizens and organizations having provided their thoughts regarding what a balanced copyright bill should look like.

It is from that listening exercise that our government arrived at the balance that we have today. It is a balance that not everyone is 100% content with, but everyone can agree that they have had some specific measure that was called for.

Canadians can also agree that what we have in this bill, especially with the amendments arrived at during committee stage, is in the right ballpark of what a balanced copyright act should look like.

This legislation will strengthen our competitiveness within the global digital economy and will protect and create jobs, promote innovation and draw new investments to Canada.

It is a hard-won balance, the result of principled compromise and one that the government is proud of.

Opposition parties have talked about this balance in several separate ways, almost disjointedly. On one hand they pit artists against consumers, and then they turn around and favour consumers over artists, all the while ignoring the need to ensure compromise.

Instead of advocating new costs for consumers, like an iPod tax, the opposition should finally side with us and support the modernization of Canada's Copyright Act.

Over here we realize that this compromise is necessary, because consumers and artists are in fact two sides of the very same coin. They are the same equation. If artists do not trust the rules that protect their rights and govern Canada's digital economy, they will be reluctant to produce their content here.

The government and members of Parliament have heard that time and time again in the consultations we have held. We have also heard that if consumers are unable to enjoy and use the content in legal ways that make sense to them, there will not be a market for the artists' work. That is why we have created a bill that strikes the right balance between the needs of consumers and users, while at the same time making strong exemptions for educational purposes or fair dealing.

The bill is an important stepping stone to the establishment of a strong framework in which Canada's digital economy can thrive. We know that the economy is changing significantly. What we do now with smart phones, tablets and computers has taken our economy in a new direction, where artists and rights holders are using the digital economy not only to bring new art to market but also to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadians.

Those benefits are reflected in the raft of groups that are supportive of this legislation. To name only a few, they include the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, the Canadian Intellectual Property Council and the Canadian Institute for the Blind.

I could go on, but I think the point is clear: the bill has wide-ranging support from those who see it as a key platform in the growth of the digital economy and the creation of knowledge economy employment.

I have listened with interest to today's debate, which is eerily reminiscent of the budget debate. In the budget, for example, we on the government side are putting forward a plan for how to sustain Canada's economic health in a time of global economic uncertainty.

Yes, unfortunately, the global economy is still fragile.

Here we have the opposition dreaming up new ways to stop our economic growth right in its tracks. We are providing for new, reasonable and economically viable ways to help grow our economy, whether it is an investment in our knowledge economy, sensible changes to the Investment Canada Act, or opening up our telecom sector to increased foreign investment, yet the opposition says “no” to those investments and “no” to changes that will create jobs and investment right here at home.

The new copyright regime will encourage new ideas and will protect the rights of Canadians whose research and development work and artistic creativity make our economy vibrant.

In the budget implementation act we have proposed practical changes to create a reasonable timeline for environmental reviews, while creating stronger environmental laws. We know that in the next 10 years more than 500 new projects representing over $500 billion in new investments will be proposed for Canada. The potential for job growth is enormous.

Since 2006 our government has been looking to streamline the review process for major opportunities such as this. More needs to be done and more can be done, yet the opposition says “no” to jobs and “no” to economic strength. Federal and provincial revenues that would flow from that measure will not accrue to Canadians because of these decisions.

I understand that part of that is the role of an opposition. I appreciate that, but the opposition's parliamentary games are not reasonable. For example, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster took up over 13 hours of debate and 70 speaking spots simply reading from Twitter posts in the House of Commons. I guess none of his colleagues had anything substantive to add to that debate. When I look at those kinds of tactics, I am not surprised about the opposition's stance on this legislation.

The same kinds of games were played during second reading of Bill C-11. The opposition spoke for more than 19 hours, often repeating the very same words, and all the while, for every day it delayed, another day went by without a modern, flexible copyright regime to help spur on our digital economy.

The bill is the outcome of one of the broadest consultations of its kind in Canadian history. In addition, the government acknowledges the many testimonies and briefs from stakeholders and parliamentarians about the bill tabled in the last session of Parliament and thanks everyone who contributed. This process made it possible to send a very clear message: Canada urgently needs to modernize the Copyright Act.

When it comes down to it, that is what this legislation is about: how rights holders and consumers interact with the digital economy, the economy of the 21st century.

What we need is a bill for the 21st century.

We know, after listening to witnesses at the committee stage of both Bill C-11 and Bill C-32, that this bill would create jobs and support the growth of Canadian business in the digital and online environment. It would promote creativity and innovation.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I note that the member used her time to go after the NDP for, apparently, speaking too long on Bill C-38. I am surprised by that because such a massive bill, which we have correctly named a Trojan horse because it has so many non-financial aspects in it, is something that absolutely has to be investigated and debated in the House of Commons. I was surprised to hear her say that 12 hours or 19 hours of debate is too long.

Having said that, I am curious about her position on this bill, and I wonder if she agrees with one of its main criticisms, which is that it cozies up to some of the big rights holders, like the big movie studios and largely U.S. cultural interests. The idea is that there is balance in the bill, but when we give it a close examination, we see that a lot of artists and small players are left behind.

I wonder how she would respond to the criticism that this is, basically, a sop to the big players who have been lobbying for these changes and that her government has now very nicely responded to them.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, we have different points of view. I quoted the exact numbers, but there were more than 9,000 consultations with the Canadian public, the business community and the artistic community. That is a lot of consultation. This is the longest consultation process in the history of Canada. It has been 15 years, and it is time we entered the 21st century.

This is in the interests of all the artists and creators who work in my community. A couple down the street from me owns a production company, just a little one, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It creates jobs and brings wealth to my community. It is very important that we make it possible for that couple to earn a living and create jobs in our economy. We are in the 21st century.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster enabled Canadians to express their views in this House, which is something that the government has not done. This government lacks transparency, refuses to listen to anyone and conceals information. It only listens to big business.

This bill will hurt small and medium-sized businesses in the cultural sector.

Will the government agree to the NDP's amendments to protect small and medium-sized businesses?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, this government listens not just to big business; it listens to all business. Small businesses create a significant number of jobs, an incredible number of jobs, in this economy. We listen to big business, small business and the people down the street. In fact, I am proud to be a part of a government that engaged in extensive budget consultations during this year, and I learned a great deal from the people in my community.

We listened to more than 9,000 submissions. There were 150 witnesses. The committee has worked hard on this and, as I said to the member's honourable colleague, this is a 15-year process of consultation. It is important that we provide the tools to the businesses and creators who are making things happen for the 21st century economy.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is important to say that the member is absolutely right that there have been lots of consultations. However, it remains the case that the leading copyright experts in this country find this bill lacking. It is more restrictive than is required by the WIPO treaty. It is even more restrictive than the U.S. digital millennium copyright act.

I ask my hon. friend if Conservative members will relent at this point and accept the amendments to make this bill match at least U.S. standards.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I am saddened that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands thinks we should adopt an American standard here.

I am proud that we have adopted, through consultations with Canadian businesses, a Canadian standard. To me, a Canadian standard is our gold standard.