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

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, here is another opportunity to speak on the bill. I know the bill has been recycled a number of times. I think its earliest life actually came when the Liberals were in power. In fact, they laid the groundwork for the copyright bill we are dealing with today. In fact, I think my hon. colleague across the way mentioned this. This is possibly about the third time the bill has come forward, which to me is a very good example of why sometimes we need to have a thorough examination of legislation; in this particular case, the copyright legislation.

This is a very technical bill. I would be the first to say that I am certainly not an expert on this issue. I know that some of my colleagues have been really drilling down into this legislation to examine what exactly is involved, who wins, who loses and whether or not there is a balance. We have heard time and again from the Conservative members who have quoted the numbers, the level of consultation. Consultation is very important, especially on a bill that is so wide in its scope and would affect so many different sectors, from very large corporations to individual artists to consumers. There is a very wide spectrum of people who would be affected. Those consultations are very important. I certainly would not deny that.

However, I think at the end of the day, we do have a fundamental question. Will Canadians have copyright legislation that would actually work for them? Is this the right balance that has been found?

I want to thank my colleagues on the committee who have worked so hard on the bill. In fact, not only did they work on the committee but they travelled across the country, as well, and heard from many individual Canadians and experts. We have had an enormous amount of feedback on the bill. In my own community of east Vancouver, which is home to many artists, I have had a lot of feedback on the bill.

Here we are, now, at the final stages of the bill and, unfortunately, that basic question is still before the House. Is this the right balance among consumers, creators and royalties, and would it unfairly kind of roll over to providing much greater support and a green light to some of the very large players?

As many of my colleagues before me have said today, on this side of the House we believe, having now gone through committee, having posed many amendments to try to mitigate some of the worst aspects of the bill, that here we are now at the final stages and the bill, unfortunately, does not strike the right balance.

In fact, I would say it appears that all the attempts that have been made at copyright reform in recent years have had very little to do, in reality, with creating a regime that would balance the rights of creators and the public. Rather, it has been more about satisfying the demands of U.S. large content owners, and by that I mean the movie studios, the music labels, the video game developers et cetera. These are all things that are very pervasive in our culture, in our society. One only has to look at a younger generation to see how incredibly powerful these various cultural products are in our society. We could have a whole other debate about the ups and downs of that.

However, we are very concerned that the bill is tilted toward satisfying the demands of those very large players. In fact, I was very surprised to read that, as a result of WikiLeaks' cables, there was even information about how the former minister's staff used influence and tried to generate a whole scene of pressure in the U.S. to put pressure on Canada to bring in a bill and to get this moving along.

I think that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a revelation that shows us that powerful interests are involved in this issue of copyright, and who wins and who loses is very significant. Therefore, the fact that the bill has taken a long time and that it is now back in the House, I think, is a reflection of the complexities of that debate. There were many witnesses at committee who came forward to express their concerns.

Our concern is that the bill essentially gives with one hand while it takes away with the other. While we certainly acknowledge that there are some concessions for consumers, the reality is when we weigh it up that they are undermined by the government's refusal to compromise on what is probably the single most controversial aspect of the bill, the digital lock provisions.

The example I gave in questions and comments, as have other colleagues, is long distance education. Under the provisions, people would have to get rid of their school notes after 30 days. To us, this seems to be a very heavy-handed approach.

In fact, at committee, NDP members proposed deleting sections of the bill that would criminalize Canadians who, in breaking digital locks for non-commercial use in the normal course of work or school, would be penalized under the provisions of the bill. That is a pretty unfair element of the bill, which has not been resolved even though there were many attempts to bring forward amendments to resolve it.

I want to segue a moment because, as I said, the bill has a very broad scope in terms of the number of people it impacts. The colleague from the Conservative Party earlier spoke about the budget implementation bill. I think she said that the Conservatives are growing the economy, and that made me think about what is really going on in this House. On the one hand we have this budget implementation bill that would fundamentally change many different regimes, whether it be environmental regulations and protections or health care. One of the changes involves EI. This is something that would have an impact on artists.

It is quite astounding to know that The Conference Board of Canada estimated that the cultural sector in Canada generates approximately $25 billion in taxes for all levels of government. That was from 2007 and presumably it might be higher now. However, that is three times higher than what was actually spent on culture by all levels of government. What was spent was $7.9 billion, but $25 billion was collected.

The median income of an artist in Canada was just under $12,900; not the average but median, which is a much more realistic comparison. I represent a community where we have an incredible diversity of artists, most of whom have other jobs to support themselves, in the service sector, restaurants or maybe at home, but they are creators. They are people who contribute enormously to our society, our local communities, our history, our culture and our understanding of the experiences we all have.

It was very interesting to hear the member across the way talk about the budget implementation bill as it relates to the copyright bill and say it is all about growing the economy. This is a bill that would actually penalize and limit the scope of artists in this country. When we look at what their income is and how much they struggle, it should very much concern us.

At the end of the day we took a hard shot at this bill. We really worked in good faith because there are some elements that are adequate, but mostly there are not. I know that our folks on the committee tried to find ways to bring forward amendments. However, if it was like our health committee, anything that we proposed automatically got shut down, which in and of itself is an affront to democratic practice. Unfortunately, that has become the practice in this place.

We are still opposed to this bill because the balance has not been found. It is still tilted in favour of the really big players.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from Vancouver for her balanced and fair remarks.

We are on the verge of what is likely to be a very long night of votes but we still have the opportunity to pass the amendments that would deal with the critical failings of this bill, particularly in relation to digital locks. It is not the case that the U.S. law is tougher than ours. It is not a good thing, as my hon. colleague from the Conservative Party mentioned earlier, to strive to have a law that is tougher than that in the U.S. when we are talking about regressive and restrictive laws that would deny consumers access to property they have already bought, when there is an intrusive digital lock function that trumps all other rights within this piece of legislation.

I hope my friend from the Official Opposition will be voting for the amendments that are being put forward by opposition party members here tonight.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has been very involved in this debate and has spoken out. I certainly will be looking at those amendments. We have worked very hard to try to mitigate the worst aspects of this bill.

If this bill passes, as it likely will given the makeup of the House, one has to wonder about the impact it would have, not only on consumers but also on artists. We had better be prepared to evaluate this bill. There would be long-term consequences that would need to be redressed. That is very unfortunate because it could have been fixed now. I thank the member for bringing forward concrete, specific measures that would actually deal with some of the worst aspects of this bill. That is what we are here to do. I know the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has done everything she can.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the government talks about the creators and how important it is that we have copyright laws. It is important to note that from an opposition point of view, whether the Green Party, the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party, a series of amendments has been put on the table at the committee stage. Shortly we are going to have a series of votes in an attempt to provide more balance to this legislation.

By voting against this legislation, members are not voting against the creators or individuals who are trying to improve this system. We are trying to make the system better and more balanced, not only from creators' or artists' perspective, but from the perspective of the different stakeholders. In order to improve the bill, there needs to be more balance. That is why the government should reconsider its position when it comes time to vote on these important amendments.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, the member's comment is very interesting. I know what he is getting at. He knows the arguments that are going to be thrown back at those of us who voted against the bill. We are going to be told we are against artists or consumers, as we have seen time and time again with the crime bill and other legislation. Unfortunately, that has become the pattern in the House. He is trying to pre-empt that kind of attack.

Of course we support consumers. Of course we support the creators. The member is entirely correct. This debate is about trying to make a bill the best it can be. There is a very strong feeling in the House and among the experts that this bill is not at that point. We would have a lot of difficulty with this legislation; there would be some long-term consequences that we would have to address.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I wish to advise the House that Friday, May 18 shall be the fourth allotted day.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-11, an act to amend the Copyright Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak about the importance of Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act, and its important role in creating a modern, dynamic, 21st century intellectual property framework.

Intellectual property affects all sectors of our economy. It comprises, among other rights, patents, trademarks, industrial design, and today's subject, of course, copyright. The logo on our baseball hat, a new and innovative drug, a work of art, a video game for our PlayStation, a song for our iPod or BlackBerry, all of these are rooted in intellectual property. That is why protecting IP is so important for consumers who demand better products, for businesses that create them and for our economy that grows as a result.

Let me take a few moments to expand on some of the main forms of IP and what they mean. Copyright protects the expression of ideas and applies to all original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and computer programs. Our copyright regime ensures that only the copyright owner is allowed to produce or reproduce the works, or allow someone else to do so. Through Bill C-11, our government would modernize this regime to ensure that it is relevant and responsive in today's digital world.

Patent rights enable inventors to create a market space in which to make, use or sell their invention in Canada.

Trademarks enable businesses to identify themselves using words, designs and other means. Trademarks ensure that products are what they say they are, which is essential for informed consumer choice.

As we move forward with the modernization of our copyright framework, it is useful to reflect on the important role that IP has played, and continues to play, in our economy. Certainly, as member of Parliament for Kitchener—Waterloo, the centre of innovation in Canada, I understand and appreciate the important role of IP.

Why do we have rights protecting IP? Protecting IP ensures that a person's idea, a company's product or an artist's creation has an economic value, and it allows its owners to earn from their creations. By providing temporary exclusive rights, IP protection creates incentives to innovate and inspires creativity. At the same time, by providing limitations to these exclusive rights, Canada's IP regime provides for access and supports the dissemination of knowledge. In short, IP protection prevents competitors from copying or closely imitating products or services, and allows businesses to bank on potential returns on investment. This creates economic growth, jobs and prosperity across the country.

IP preserves the competitive edge that a business or a person acquires through research and development and marketing, inventiveness or creativity. It allows dynamic entrepreneurs to answer unsatisfied market domain or open up new market frontiers. It allows businesses to develop goodwill through branding strategies that help them retain customers by ensuring that a brand is consistently associated with a level of quality of products or services.

In addition to protecting ingenuity and creativity, IP helps instill trust, confidence and loyalty in consumers. All of us in the House no doubt know and trust many Canadian products. IP protection ensures that these brands are protected against piracy and counterfeit.

In the digital age where data and information can travel around the world in the blink of an eye, the role of IP has never been greater. That is why now, more than ever, Canadian companies are concerned not only about the nature of the rights that are granted, but also about the effectiveness of their enforcement, both here in Canada and abroad.

That is why Canada signed the anti-counterfeiting trade agreements in October 2011, demonstrating our commitment to combatting the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods.

I am proud of our government's introduction of the copyright modernization legislation, which is before us today. This bill would strengthen copyright protections and modernize our copyright regime to bring it in line with international standards and with the realities of the digital age. Specifically, it would provide a clear framework for businesses to be able to protect their creative content, reach new markets, reinvest in further innovation through the development of new business models, and combat infringement in a digital environment, particularly online piracy.

This bill would implement the rights and protections that are set out in the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties which were signed in 1997 and never ratified here in Canada. For too long we have been outside the consensus on modern protections for IP. With this bill, that would no longer be the case.

The bill would provide legal protection for businesses that choose, choose being the operative word, to use digital locks to protect their intellectual property as part of their business models. It would also give copyright owners the tools to pursue those who wilfully and knowingly enable copyright infringement online, such as operators of websites that enable illegal file sharing.

Rights holders would also benefit from legal protection for rights management information. For example, these provisions would prevent the removal of a digital watermark for the purposes of facilitating infringement. The bill would give innovative companies the certainty they need to develop new products and services that involve legitimate uses of copyright material.

Software companies would be allowed explicitly to engage in encryption research, security testing, compatibility testing and reverse engineering. This would support the growth of a competitive third party software market in Canada, spurring follow-on innovation. It would make clear that temporary reproductions made during a technological process are not a violation of copyright.

Finally, the bill would clarify the roles and responsibilities of intermediaries, such as ISPs and search engines. Copyright modernization is a major element of the intellectual property regime in Canada. In this digital age, it is vital that we act now to pass Bill C-11.

Modern copyright is a springboard for a growing digital economy and the foundation for any future digital economy strategy. In passing this bill, we would enhance Canada's innovative capacity, create the necessary environment for growth in our dynamic innovation-driven industries and foster Canadian creativity. All of this would mean jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, something that all members of this House should welcome.

I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting this bill and ensuring that the copyright modernization legislation can proceed to the Senate.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

I really liked what he said in his speech because he talked about the government's true intention, which is to make the focus of this legislation intellectual property and commercialization. In the context of this debate, it just so happens that the English term and the French term do not mean exactly the same thing. In English, “copyright” is the right to copy, while in French, “droit d'auteur” is the creator's right to compensation. There are certainly differences between the two.

My point is that I agree we should respect copyright holders. However, there may be a problem in terms of compensation for creators, but he did not have much to say about that.

I would like him to tell us what he thinks of this bill, knowing that creators will earn less as a result.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's final comment is simply not the case. There are mechanisms in Bill C-11 that would ensure all creators, authors, musicians, artists, software designers, computer programmers, are all properly compensated for their work.

In Canada, we want to ensure that the range of industries that would be impacted by the bill continue to thrive and flourish and, with Bill C-11, that would certainly be the case. We have heard that at numerous committee meetings and from a range of witnesses who appeared before us. It is time to get the bill passed.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we in the Liberal Party recognize how important it is to ensure that there is fair compensation. We understand and we appreciate the degree to which creators and artists from coast to coast to coast contribute to our economic well-being. They play an important part in terms of economic activity in many different ways.

However, I am sure can the member appreciate that, through the committee process, a great number of amendments were proposed that would have improved the legislation and would have ensured that there was more balance in the legislation. Why, time and time again, did the government refuse to look at amendments that would have improved this legislation? Why did it ignore the amendments? Many of the stakeholders who made presentations supported those amendments.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that balance has been achieved with this legislation. There have been extensive consultations across the country before two special legislative committees. It was critically important that the bill achieved balance between consumers and creators and that balance has been achieved.

Speaking of the Liberal Party, John Manley said, “...overall the Copyright Modernization Act reflects an appropriate balance among the needs of creators, distributors, consumers and society as a whole...”.

For that reason, I encourage members of Parliament to move forward with this as expeditiously as possible. I could not agree more.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It being 5:45 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Copyright Modernization Act
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5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.