House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that there are no members from the opposition in the chamber. Can we proceed without anybody from the opposition? Here comes a member now.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. There is no requirement to have members of different parties present for quorum. It is just an absolute number. They can all be from one party, if necessary.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

June 15th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

moved that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to open debate at third reading on the copyright modernization act. This has been a long process. After 15 years, unprecedented levels of consultations, introduction in two Parliaments, reviews conducted by two legislative committees, over 30 hours of review and debate, 100 witness testimonies and thousands more submissions, and several efforts by our government, it is a great honour to rise today at third reading of the bill. I look forward to seeing this bill move toward the Senate.

I thank the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, who have put a tremendous amount of work into crafting this bill and toward consultations to get us here today.

Modernizing our copyright regime is one of the key ways to create a dynamic, growing and creative digital economy in Canada that creates jobs, not only today, but for many years to come.

I remind members of the House who are thinking of opposing this bill of what Canadian businesses, entrepreneurs, creators, artists and users have said throughout this difficult process. They have said that they need modern legislation to reflect modern times and that they could no longer wait.

Our copyright laws were last substantially amended in 1997. Compared to the fast-paced world that we live in today, where we have new smart phones every year, we can watch movies on many devices with a screen and Internet connection, and where artists and creators can get their big break through social media, 1997 was a different world.

Indeed, for those of us with young children or teenagers at home, it is fascinating to see the ease with which they interact with digital media. That which we need to learn they have already internalized as part of the world in which they are growing up.

However, our copyright laws are simply not relevant or responsive enough for today's world. Whether it is the everyday online activities of the average Canadian, saving a favourite show on a personal video recorder, updating a music playlist on smart phones or putting a mash-up online, whether it is artists or creators looking to manage the release of their works online or protect their works from online infringements or rights holders looking to ensure that their investments are protected, all need modern copyright laws. This would ensure that the digital web, with its vast database of knowledge, incredible ability to connect people, and its limitless potential to create, innovate and grow, is fully accessible to all Canadians.

Since the current round of copyright reform began, we have seen a tremendous change in the digital world. Social media is everywhere. It is now easy to access copyrighted material online and to do so using hand-held devices. Now cloud computing is looking to completely upend old service models for data transfer and storage.

Over the last few years, many different views have been expressed on how to approach copyright reform. Quite simply, to move forward we need to establish a balance between what is necessary for consumers and what is good for creators. What will support users while protecting rights holders?

This bill finds a fair balance. It gives copyright owners the tools they need to combat piracy, including new provisions enabling them to sue in case of copyright violations.

Under the legislation, consumers will be able to record their favourite televisions shows to watch them later, transfer music from a CD to a digital device, and create digital mash-ups to post on social media sites.

Until this bill is passed, these activities are technically illegal. Consumers who do ordinary activities that are commonly accepted, such as the activities I just mentioned, are now in a grey area with respect to their copyright responsibilities.

The bill updates the act's exceptions to allow for the use of copyright-protected content for the purposes of satire and parody, according to the provisions of fair dealing. It also expands the notion of fair dealing and provides exceptions for educators to better use digital resources. This will improve teaching, research methods and educational content, through the use of the most recent technologies. It specifies the roles and responsibilities of Internet service providers and search engines.

The bill also supports private sector innovation by creating exceptions for reverse engineering, security testing, encryption research and technological processes. It provides legal protection for companies that, in the context of their operational model, rely on digital locks to protect their copyrighted content.

Finally, under this bill, rights and protections in Canada will be harmonized with the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties signed by Canada in 1997. We will finally join the group of nations that have brought their copyright legislation into the digital era.

Taken together, the measures in the bill would help Canadian creators and innovators to compete and contribute to attracting foreign investment to Canada, while ensuring that consumers, educators and users would have new protections that would give them full opportunity to engage in their digital world.

As I described at the outset of my remarks, this House has debated the bill extensively, at second reading, during both legislative committees and during the report stage just two weeks ago.

Throughout this process, we have made a special effort to introduce technical amendments that preserve the balance and spirit of the bill.

At the report stage, many of my colleagues spoke eloquently about the nature and purpose of these amendments. In the minutes remaining, I would like to remind the House why we introduced these amendments. I would like to begin by discussing the three main amendments that will strengthen the anti-piracy tools available to copyright holders.

First, members will recall that the bill before us includes a provision enabling copyright holders to take legal action against individuals who knowingly violate copyright online, such as those operating websites that facilitate the illegal exchange of files. I am sure that everyone here agrees that such sites should be the first target of an anti-piracy campaign.

To ensure that this provision will be as effective as it is meant to be, we introduced an amendment clarifying that the provision will apply to online services primarily provided to violate copyright, even if they were not initially designed to do that. The idea is not to do indirectly what we cannot do directly. To sum up, regardless of the initial purpose of a site, if the site enables copyright violations, there will be consequences.

Second, copyright holders told us that they were worried about the fact that they would not be able to exact pre-established damages from these enablers. Websites that facilitate illegal file-sharing hurt copyright holders and often profit from their pirating activities. Accordingly, the bill was amended to ensure that copyright holders can protect themselves against these enablers and pre-established damages.

Lastly, the committee amended the bill to eliminate a potential loophole. We were told that the liability exemptions, which were intended to protect neutral intermediaries, could become a loophole that enablers could use to protect themselves against litigation. A technical change corrected the situation in order to ensure that enablers would not be able to use these exemptions to protect themselves against litigation.

I would now like to highlight some of the changes we made that will identify some of the exceptions included in the bill regarding innovation.

Specifically, the bill contains exceptions to support important innovative activities related to software reverse engineering, security testing and encryption research.

On that point, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Kitchener—Waterloo, for bringing this to our attention and working to better the act.

We were told that someone could use these exceptions to engage in illegal activities. The government therefore has made a balanced change that will ensure that people engaging in such activities cannot get around copyright requirements and that our honest innovators and researchers can pursue their important work, inventing new products and marketing their innovations. In addition to those changes, we have also proposed changes that will support non-profit agencies that work in the interest of people with visual impairments.

As far as consumers are concerned, the bill indeed includes an exception that allows non-profit organizations to create and export material adapted for people with perceptual impairments, under certain conditions, including a limitation based on the nationality of the author.

However, given that the author's nationality is not always easy to determine, there was concern that an organization might have to pay damages for errors made in good faith. An amendment to the bill responds to that concern and recognizes that in many cases, people do make honest mistakes.

In order to ensure that the non-profit organizations in question are not unduly penalized as a result of mistakes made in good faith, the amendment states that, in such circumstances, an injunction is the only remedy that the owner of the copyright in the work has against the organization.

With regard to intermediaries, Internet service providers and search engines play an important role in exchanging ideas and information. They make it easier to access the online world and help us to sort through a vast quantity of information.

At committee, many intermediaries informed us of the unintended consequences that the provisions of the bill could have on them. In order to protect these groups from such unintended consequences, we proposed amendments that take their concerns into account without affecting the bill's balanced approach. For example, the bill requires Internet service providers to forward to subscribers the notifications of claimed infringement they receive from copyright owners.

This provision was amended to require Internet service providers to forward notifications of claimed infringement “as soon as feasible” rather than “without delay” as it said in the original version of the bill. Furthermore, it is important that the intermediaries are not held responsible when they play a neutral role. By establishing an exemption for real network intermediaries and new technologically neutral exceptions for consumers' daily activities, Bill C-11 paves the way for an increased use of digital technologies, such as cloud computing, networked personal video recording and other services that have yet to be invented.

A service that meets the conditions of the exemption will not result in liability under copyright law. Although intermediaries must assume clear responsibilities in the fight against online piracy, we also have to ensure that the requirements imposed on them are not unrealistic or too cumbersome.

The government firmly believes that the provisions of Bill C-11 strike such a balance.

I think all members would agree that this House has debated and consulted for some time now on how to strike an appropriate balance while establishing a modern, responsive copyright regime in Canada. These amendments are the latest demonstration of our government's commitment to strike the right balance between rights holders and users.

We recognize that copyright in the digital age will always evolve and that efforts to maintain balance are ongoing, whether a bill is before us or not. Such is the complexity of copyright and the many views on what is an ideal regime.

Our job as government is to ensure that the bill strikes the right balance, that it promotes innovation, investment and job growth in the Canadian digital economy while also preserving the rights of Canadians to use legally purchased copyright material in new and creative ways. For that reason, the bill has a built in five-year review so it does not fall this far behind again.

I hope hon. members will agree with me that the bill should be passed as amended and moved quickly to the Senate for debate and review.

This bill will bring Canadian copyright into the digital age. It is long overdue.

The faster it moves through Parliament, the faster it will benefit creators, the faster we can adopt measures to fight piracy, the faster search engines and Internet service providers will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities with respect to copyright, and the faster users will be able to go about their daily non-infringing activities with confidence and full knowledge of the practices permitted under the law.

We can no longer put off passing this bill. It is time to move forward.

Copyright Modernization Act
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10:20 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have spent many years on the issue of copyright in our attempt and our willingness to work with the government to improve legislation that is fundamentally flawed. However, like everything with the Conservative government, it will not work with anybody. It sees people as perceived threats, as perceived enemies. Every amendment that we brought forward was attacked or shut down.

I would like to ask the hon. member about clause 47. Clause 47 sets out to punish people with perceptual disabilities. When my daughter, who is deaf, went through school and needed copyrighted material, she had to actually break the algorithm to access materials. That is a fundamental right for students who are so far behind in being able to access what other students take for granted. Under clause 47, the government is telling students with perceptual disabilities that they are responsible for repairing the lock.

Students who are blind have the right to access material if they need to have the print drawn up. Deaf students need the right to access material if they need something added in as a code so the subtitles can be seen. However, that can only be done if they take responsibility for repairing the lock afterward; otherwise, they are involved in a criminal activity.

Does the hon. member have any idea whatsoever about how to repair a digital lock? I know the Conservatives think of it in terms of a lock, but it is not a lock. It is a computer algorithm. Why would the Conservatives not work with us on a clear amendment that would ensure that students with perceptual disabilities are not treated as criminals for accessing material in an educational format so they can succeed?

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10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Christian Paradis Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, thousands of Canadians from all the different stakeholder groups were consulted on the bill.

We know that digital locks protect innovation. In fact, when creators want to innovate, they need protection. We also know that there is flexibility. Products can be sold and digital copies can be added to different software or other items.

It is obvious that my colleague is referring to an isolated case. In general, the spirit of the law seeks to strike the right balance. It is also for that reason that I did say to my colleague that we need to move quickly to pass the bill because, at this point, everything we are talking about is illegal. We are not in the digital age; we are still in the era of VHS and landline telephones. Therefore, it is time to pass the bill.

Furthermore, there will be a review every five years to consider technological, digital and other changes.

One thing is certain: we want to strike a balance. Extensive consultation has made it clear to us that this is the way to ensure that there is balance. There are always ways of achieving it, including the example I just gave.

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10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the hon. minister could please comment on the area of piracy.

Canada has been criticized on many occasions for harbouring piracy when it comes to copyright. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we have been so late in getting copyright legislation passed through the House, owing to a number of reasons. This legislation takes on that issue. Canada would no longer be seen as harbouring piracy in terms of Internet protection.

Copyright Modernization Act
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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Christian Paradis Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague mentioned, this is a great matter of concern. We signed the treaty back in 1997. We have a problem because we are not compliant and our partners are saying that we need to get through this because online copyright piracy is not punishable in the scope of the law. We need to move into the 21st century to ensure these illicit activities are punished.

The idea is to strike a balance. We have an approach that will protect the rights of the creators and innovators while, on the other hand, we have a balanced approach to ensure that the users, the consumers, know what they can and cannot do. We are providing certainty while striking that balance.

A huge group of stakeholders has been consulted everywhere around the country. There have been over 8,000. The bill has been tabled in two Parliaments. It has been the object of several hours of debate in committees. I think it is time to get into the 21st century and bring compliance to our 1997 agreement under WIPO. That is over 15 years ago. It is time to move on.

Copyright Modernization Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, two words I picked out of the minister's comments were punishment and consumers. Many consumers are quite concerned about what the government is doing and the impact the bill would have.

I, as do many members of Parliament, go to numerous events. Winnipeg is well-known for social events. We call them socials, fundraisers and whatnot. I attend wedding celebrations and so forth. There are a lot of entertainment events, like block parties and special events that happen in our parks, like Kildonan Park and others, in which music is played.

I am wondering if the minister could provide a comment about how this legislation would impact individuals who are wanting to play music at their event if there are 25 or more people?

Copyright Modernization Act
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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Christian Paradis Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I talk about punishment I have to put the emphasis on punishment for online piracy. This is the concern that was raised by my previous colleagues. Once again, what we want to do is strike a balance.

Consumers face uncertainty. They do not presently know what computer files can be shared. With this legislation they would know if they are compliant with the law or not, because there is nothing in the law presently.

What we want to do is to take a balanced approach that takes both consumer rights and creator rights into account. We must establish a clear framework for neutral Internet service providers, not those that facilitate illegal file sharing, among other things. That is what we want to do.

Obviously, this will involve punishments. My colleague mentioned the famous punishments for consumers. These will exist in the case of pre-established damages, when someone knowingly shares information or files online. That is where we have added some certainty. The digital age is moving too quickly. That is what my speech was about: the digital age. We must provide some certainty, because this sector is growing exponentially.

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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that is very important in my riding of Parkdale—High Park because we have so many artists and creators who live in our area.

The minister talked earlier about pressure on us to act. I am wondering why a key aide to a former industry minister urged the U.S. to put Canada on the notorious piracy watch list and why he added that pressure on Parliament.

However, the real issue is that the impact of the legislation is to create the real winners, which are huge corporations, usually American based rights holders. It does nothing for consumers who would face increased taxes on DVDs and CDs, although it fails to take any action on new media, which artists need. In fact, it takes away about $50 million in royalties from creators and does not protect them.

Why would the minister not accept very reasoned, constructive amendments to the bill that were offered in good faith? Why has he been so intransigent with this legislation?

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Christian Paradis Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is very contradictory. First, we want to get rid of piracy. As it is now, people exchanging illicit files online is not covered by the law or within the scope of it. Creators need to be protected, which is why we want to make online piracy illegal. If people are committing piracy, they will face the consequences.

We have to be compliant with WIPO. We are far behind our partners. This is a balanced Canadian approach. When my colleague referred to the approach of the United States, we decided to concentrate on Internet service providers instead of having a notice to take down. Nobody wanted it in Canada, so we decided to go with a balanced and typical Canadian approach, which is notice to notice. This bill strikes a balance. There are also special provisions in terms of fair dealing and education. On the other hand, my colleague pleaded with her party in the past for an iPod tax and consumers do not want it. It was rejected by consumers.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise on this issue, which is vitally important for Canada. The need to update Canada's copyright legislation is something that the New Democrats have been pushing the current government and the previous Liberal government on for the better part of the last decade.

The problem is that this bill fails. It fails the rights of artists. It is an attack on the royalty regimes that it created, not just an incredible worldwide industry but also a sense of identity of culture that has created the importance of ensuring we have a voice. That voice is actually created within the marketplace of copyright, which I will get to in a moment. It attacks education, students and people with perceptual disabilities.

The government did not need to go down this road. We could have worked with the government. We were more than willing to work with it and we said it again and again. There are elements in the bill that are much better than the previous Conservative bill, which looked like a dog's breakfast when we considered how badly it was constructed, but this bill could have been fixed.

At the outset, we said that this did not need to be an ideological fight. We all have a stake in improving copyright. Unfortunately, the government does not know how to do to anything except in an ideological way. The government's idea of balance is that it is its way or the highway. Its idea of balance is that anybody who does not agree with it is a threat, which is why it had to go to such extreme measures as threatening Parks Canada employees, telling them that if they embarrassed the hapless parks minister their jobs would be on the line. It seems that the public servants of Canada, whose job it is to be public servants to Canadians, are to be the loyal soldiers of the Conservative Party or they are threatened.

We have seen how the government destroyed the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. We know now why. It is because it had—

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. History shows that the member for Timmins—James Bay tends to wander off on a dozen or more tangents during his speeches, but we are talking about a particular bill. If I am going to sit and listen to him, I would like to have his thoughts on the specific bill because that is what is important. I wish the hon. member would stick to his discussions about the bill. I am sure he feels he has some valid points to make about the bill and I would like him to make them.

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member is making a point about relevance and I will remind the member for Timmins—James Bay that while members may touch on other aspects of policy when making their points, we are at third reading and the rules of relevance are a little tighter at third reading.

The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.