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

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for his speech and his defence of the bill.

I think that it needs to be understood that this copyright modernization act has moved in the right direction in most ways. Unfortunately, the balance is not right in relation to consumer rights and those of device manufacturers and copyright holders.

I want to return to a passage I put earlier to the member for Winnipeg North and put it to the member opposite. In relation to copyright law, let me mention that I have permission to read from Intellectual Property Law: Copyright, Patents, Trade-Marks text, second edition, published in 2011, by David Vaver. Allow me to continue with this real-life example of how this legislation would put consumers at risk of breaking the law. Here is a real-life example that I am quoting from this text:

Buyers of video game consoles found they were tied in to the console makers' games. TPMs

—that is, digital locks—

barred third-party games, improvements, and imports. Users found themselves unable to exercise fair dealing and other rights the Copyright Act gave them. The consumer was often given no prior warning that rights he thought he had were being negated. The situation was ripe for hackers for surmount such obstacles, and cat-and-mouse games ensued as copyright holders tried to keep one step ahead of circumventers. The public sided largely with the circumventers, who enabled buyers to enjoy the usual rights of ownership of property that had been bought and paid for.

I am looking to the Conservative members of the House. We were not all members in this House, in this place or in committee. I do understand committee has rejected a number of the amendments or ones like it, but, please, let us fix this now.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I assume there is a question in there.

However, I was recently in Washington, meeting with a number of congressional leaders. We were talking about this very piece of legislation, the copyright modernization act. They were very pleased to learn that we are now bringing our copyright and intellectual property regime into the 21st century. They were quite concerned about the older regime that we were existing under.

By improving our intellectual property regime, we would be creating an opportunity to create more jobs in Canada, create investment and long-term prosperity for companies that would like to invest in this country, and create jobs for Canadians, so it is imperative that we pass the bill as expeditiously as possible.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, it is completely irresponsible to limit debate today for the 21st time in a little over a year, especially since this debate will not strike a balance between authors' rights, the industry's rights and consumers' rights.

Howard Knopf, a lawyer who specializes in copyright, says that this bill does not encourage innovation and that, in fact, it inhibits it. He wonders how making it illegal to bypass a regional code in order to watch a legally imported Bollywood DVD that is not available in Canada is going to encourage innovation.

Thus, there is no consensus and no respect for authors' rights or consumers' rights, and furthermore, the bill does not encourage innovation. How can this government move forward on the bill at this stage and limit debate when the bill still contains several controversial elements?

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am really not surprised to hear from the NDP that anyone's creation should not have any property rights attached to it.

The creator has, by creating a piece of property, a legal and moral obligation to receive compensation for it. It is not a Wild West situation in which anything in the public domain belongs to everybody. That is just not true, and creators of intellectual property deserve the full protection of the law.

We are now in the 21st century, and there are new opportunities and new technology. They must be protected, and the creators of these must be protected.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

May 15th, 2012 / 11:50 a.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, as I said in my previous speech—and it bears repeating—shutting down debate is becoming a tradition. This is the 21st time this year. I do not know what more to say, but I thought it was worth pointing out.

First of all, this bill is exactly the same as Bill C-32 from the previous Parliament. Artists were very critical of it. Now that the Conservatives have a majority, they are bringing it back. This is another perfect example of them shutting down debate. This bill creates powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners, who are not necessarily the creators or developers of the content. This prevents access to copyrighted works. These new provisions are backed by fines in excess of $1 million and up to five years in prison.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

11:50 a.m.

An hon. member

Unbelievable.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
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11:50 a.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Yes, my colleague is absolutely right.

This means that digital locks, for example, will, for all practical purposes, take precedence over all other rights, including fair dealing rights for students and journalists. People are being muzzled yet again. This is really becoming a tradition with this Parliament, and it is problematic for a number of reasons. Obviously, there is the very real possibility that consumers will not be authorized to use content they have already paid for. This government claims that it stands up for consumers' rights, so I find this whole thing a little paradoxical and contradictory.

Digital locks take precedence over all other rights guaranteed by the Charter. Take, for example, format shifting for individuals with vision or hearing loss. These people might not be able to exercise their rights. That is discrimination. I do not think that is news to anyone here.

Furthermore, where a digital lock has been used, copies made for educational purposes must be automatically erased after five days and course notes must be destroyed within 30 days of the course concluding. That would lead to serious problems for students enrolled in distance education courses. In my opinion, it is not an appropriate use of the copyright rules. A student who pays copyright fees for course materials often needs the materials even after the courses end. This is completely unacceptable.

The bill also creates new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provision of the Copyright Act, including the exceptions for educators, and exceptions for parody and satire, which once again limit freedom of expression. The exceptions do not adequately recognize the rights of creators. In fact, the exceptions facilitate consumers' access to copyright-protected content without providing new methods to compensate creators for their work.

It is also interesting to note that, in this bill, the Conservatives have deliberately avoided addressing the issue of a possible extension of the private copying exception. It has been proven that this exception has been very effective in the past for cassettes, CDs and DVDs. However, the Conservatives do not want to apply it to new technology. Instead, the Conservatives have tried to put a populist face on all this by scaring consumers. I find this quite unacceptable.

Clearly, the NDP is in favour of modernizing the copyright rules. It is something that needs to be done, but there are too many major problems with this bill. In some cases, it even creates problems where there were none before. In my opinion this is not an approach that balances the rights of creators, who obviously must be paid for their work— their job is to create—and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content.

It is therefore our duty to vote against this bill, which contains far too many provisions that will have very serious consequences for the way in which Canadians obtain and share protected content.

The bill includes provisions that create powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners, which have absolutely nothing to do with the creators and content developers and prevent access to copyrighted works.

These new provisions are supported by fines of $1 million. I think it is important to point this out because I do not understand how the average consumer could be fined such a large amount. It is completely inappropriate and unacceptable.

This measure is modelled directly after the United States' controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Digital locks would trump all other rights. I really do not see how this is useful for the consumers that the Conservatives claim to want to protect.

There are two fundamental problems with this approach. First, there is a real danger that it will prevent consumers from using content for which they have already paid, which is ironic given that the Conservatives claim to be working for consumers. The approach also seriously infringes on the rights of artists and creators.

The work of artists and creators is very important in our society. Indeed, it is very important for a society to have a lively arts and culture sector in order to reflect that culture on the world stage. These creators may no longer have the means to continue creating and will be forced to do other work. This is not going to benefit our country in the end.

We know that the government is accusing us of voting against a number of its bills, but we cannot not vote against this type of bill, which is harmful to consumers and artists alike.

The NDP has fought every step of the way for a balanced approach to copyright. We participated in the committee, even without support from some of the opposition members, that studied this bill. We listened to the concerns of a number of groups with regard to the scope of this bill. At committee stage, we proposed 17 amendments that could have made this bill more balanced and fair for the artists and consumers. Nonetheless, the government did not listen to us or the many groups of artists and writers who came before the committee.

That is why it is impossible for us to support this bill, which penalizes Canadian families and artists.

I would be pleased to answer my colleagues' questions.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her excellent speech.

I think we all agree that Canada's copyright legislation needs to be updated. However, we also need to protect consumers' rights. So many amendments are needed because the technical protection measures are too strict. I hope the NDP will support those amendments during this evening's vote.

I would like to know the member's thoughts on eliminating technical protection measures that are too strict, in order to allow consumers to legally use copyrighted material they have legally purchased.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question. Indeed, what is really important to remember about this bill is that the NDP is proposing a balanced approach that does not discriminate against consumers and allows artists and creators to be properly paid for the work they do for our society.

Many organizations agree with our position. For instance, Michael Geist, a technology commentator, supports our position, and so does the Writers Guild of Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, copyright lawyer Howard Knopf, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, and I could go on. All of these people and organizations share the NDP's position and have made their position clear to this government, but it refuses to listen.

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Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her remarks. She talked about how this bill creates an imbalance between consumers and authors.

What does she think about the fact that this bill does not focus on innovation sufficiently, if at all?

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my speech, this bill is more or less a carbon copy of Bill C-32, which was rejected by many artists' groups and by the opposition.

Now that the Conservatives have a majority, they are marching in, imposing this unacceptable bill on us once again. As the hon. member said, there is a lack of innovation. In addition, there is no openness on the part of the government, which does not listen to artists, writers, musicians and all those whose work reflects our Canadian culture and identity. The government's lack of vision in modernizing copyright is a real problem.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

Noon

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and for Western Economic Diversification

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak today in support of Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act. As many of my colleagues know, we are the closest we have ever been in the last 15 years to modernizing the Copyright Act. We are on the verge of having a Copyright Act that is responsive to the realities of both today and tomorrow, a Copyright Act that will give creators, innovators and ordinary citizens the confidence they need to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital world.

The fact is the Copyright Act in its current form is not responsive to many of the realities our digital world has brought forward. Our government is committed to fixing this.

The last time the Copyright Act was substantially updated, VHS tapes, discmans and pagers were commonly used. For many, the flip phone was the trendy gadget of the day. Text messaging and mobile Internet were just beginning to be introduced on the market. In fact, dial-up modems were still quite common. That was only 15 years ago.

It would be a gross understatement to say that technology changed considerably since then. What was once considered cutting edge is now almost obsolete. In fact, it seems like something newer and better is popping up every day.

Just the other day I was reading about all the speculation around what consumers could expect from upcoming versions of Smartphones. It is hard to predict what the high tech world will look like even 10 years from now. Digital technology has changed how Canadians access, use and share copyrighted content. Today, Canadians expect to be able to enjoy legitimately-acquired content where and when they want. Copyright laws need to respond to this reality.

Our government is committed to ensuring that Canada's copyright law is flexible and adaptable to change. We are also committed to ensuring that appropriate protections are provided for both creators and users. Bill C-11 would establish clear rules that would be flexible enough to allow the Copyright Act to evolve as technology continues to advance. It is balanced in that it provides new rights for creators, while providing new exceptions for users.

Let me tell members about some of the exceptions in Bill C-11. Bill C-11 would give Canadians the flexibility to record broadcast programming to enjoy at a more convenient time, often referred to as time shifting. It would also give individuals the freedom to copy music, films and other content onto any or all of the devices they owned, such as MP3 players and tablets, something that is often referred to as format shifting. Canadians would also be able to legally back up copyrighted material they purchased.

Our government believes it is important that all Canadians, including those with disabilities, have access to copyrighted materials in a format they can easily use. That is why Bill C-11 would allow Canadians with perceptual disabilities to adapt legally-acquired material to a format that would be more accessible. It would also clarify the law regarding the importation of adapted material into Canada and explicitly would allow the exportation of certain adapted materials, including Braille and audio books.

As I mentioned, digital technology has fundamentally transformed the way many Canadians work, play and learn. For example, in the digital world, consumers are no longer passive audiences. Large segments of the population are interacting with content in new and innovative ways. Bill C-11 recognizes this new reality by including new exceptions that respond to it.

Bill C-11 includes a user-generated content provision which would allow Canadians to incorporate existing copyrighted material in the creation of new non-commercial works. An example of this would be posting a home video on YouTube of a bride and groom dancing to their favourite wedding song.

This exception recognizes that these new uses of creative content contribute to Canada's cultural sector. For example, these uses can enhance interest in the original when videos of user-generated content go viral on the Internet. This innovative form of creation can also shed light on emerging talent from across our country and showcase it to the rest of the world. Of course the digital age does not just offer opportunities for creation; it also offers many unique opportunities for learning and education.

Bill C-11 recognizes the immense opportunities that new and emerging technologies present for education. Digital technologies can enhance the traditional classroom experience and encourage new models for education outside the physical classroom. This can increase access to education and communities big and small across our great country.

Bill C-11 includes exceptions that would allow teachers and students to make better use of digital technologies and of copyrighted materials. For example, Bill C-11 would amend existing educational exceptions so that they are technologically neutral. No longer would we see references to specific technologies like flip charts and overhead projectors.

Bill C-11 also introduces a number of new measures that would enrich the educational experience. For instance, teachers would now be allowed to digitally deliver course materials to students. Students would be allowed to use material that they find on the Internet.

There are a number of other educational exceptions in Bill C-11 that I could describe, but all of these recognize the potential that the digital environment holds for teaching and learning in Canada.

I have spoken about how Bill C-11 recognizes the opportunities that the digital environment offers for learning and creation in Canada. It is also important to note that Bill C-11 recognizes the potential this environment holds for creative and innovative businesses.

Bill C-11 includes a number of provisions that would strengthen the ability of copyright owners to control the online use of their works. This would help promote innovative and legitimate business models and prevent widespread illicit use.

For example, Bill C-11 includes new protections for copyright owners who choose to use digital locks to protect their works. For a number of copyright owners, the use of digital locks can allow for the monetization of creative content and the protection of potentially significant investments made during the development phase. By providing protections against the circumvention of these locks, our government is supporting the ability of creators to advance new digital business models and compete on the international stage.

Bill C-11 also includes a number of provisions that would allow creators and innovators to compete in the digital age with confidence. This includes legal protections for rights management information and a new category of civil liability that targets those who enable online piracy.

All of these measures would help attract new investments which would, in turn, promote economic growth and help protect and create jobs in Canada. In short, they would help position Canada as a leader in the digital economy of today and tomorrow.

It is clear that Canada's copyright laws need to be modernized to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. The bill we have before us would do just that. Bill C-11 takes a balanced approach to copyright modernization. It considers the needs and interests of all Canada. Furthermore, it would bring our copyright law in line with international standards. It is very much in keeping with our government's commitment to promote innovation, productivity and job creation.

Of course, we cannot enjoy any of these benefits until we pass the bill. Therefore, I urge all of my colleagues to join me in giving these benefits to Canadians by passing Bill C-11.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the member opposite and I wonder if he recognizes that this is a very complicated area and a very complicated piece of legislation.

The proposed legislation has not received unanimous support from participants within the industry. The impact of the changes that are being proposed would be significant and difficult to change. It would bring forward some very onerous restrictions on users, artists and others and could, frankly, take away millions of dollars from the creators.

Would the member not agree that the matter being proposed is of such importance that it requires we take every opportunity to examine each and every piece and listen to any Canadian, especially those involved in the industry, to ensure we are doing this correctly the first time?

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, yes, the government does recognize that this is a very complex and complicated matter. It is for that reason that we are continuing our review of the copyright modernization act, which actually began in the last Parliament.

Before being dissolved, the legislative committee studying the bill heard from more than 70 witnesses and received more than 150 written submissions. Over the course of the hearings there were two clear messages that emerged. First, that the bill balances the interests of the various stakeholders, and second, that Canada urgently needs to pass legislation to update the Copyright Act.

By re-introducing this bill without changes, the government is reiterating its support for a balanced approach to copyright reform and enabling parliamentarians to pick up where the last committee left off.

Report Stage
Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I would like to pick up where my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour left off. When I was listening to the parliamentary secretary's speech, I kept hearing this phrase over and over again, “creates new...”. He said that the bill creates new rules about this and new rules about that. He said “creates new” quite a number of times, although I did not actually keep track.

My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour raised an excellent point when he said that there was a lot happening with this bill. It would create new powers, new rules and new regulations. It essentially would create a new way of doing business.

Therefore, I do not know how the parliamentary secretary can stand up and justify, with any credibility in the House, why it is that there has been time allocation moved on this and why it is we are not doing a proper and thorough study of this review. I would like him to comment on the fact that the very words in his speech contradict the position that his government is taking.