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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the third time and passed.

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, discussions have taken place among the whips. I think if you seek it you will find unanimous consent of the House for me to split my time with my friend and colleague, the member for Ottawa South.

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the member have unanimous consent?

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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June 15th, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased that my colleague and friend from Halifax West asked me to stand and speak. He serves as the industry critic and is certainly much more involved in this topic and piece of legislation than I am. But I have been able to form an opinion after following the debate, after having an opportunity to speak with a number of persons whose lives and livelihoods are impacted by the passing of this legislation, and after having read some of the testimony given in committee hearings. I am very comfortable with my party's position on this particular piece of legislation.

This is not the first time we have seen this type of legislation. For the most part, Bill C-11 is a carbon copy of what we saw in the previous Parliament, which was Bill C-32. The Canadian economy is in the midst of a transition to a digital economy. We know that cultural institutions are going to be impacted through this transition. The music, cinema and education sectors are going to be profoundly impacted by this piece of legislation.

From what I have been able to read through the development of the legislation and the testimony in committee, there is some support for the legislation. There are some solid principles in the legislation and the direction of the legislation was embraced by the vast majority, but there are a number of specific aspects of this bill that are very contentious and are going to pose harm to a great number of Canadians. Amendments that were brought forward that seemed to be logical and reasonable were totally dismissed, and I am going to talk about that a little later on.

We know that things have changed. Let me take the music sector, as an example, and talk about how that has changed over the last number of years. My caucus colleagues and I would have grown up in an era in which our first experience with music probably would have on vinyl. I do not think it would have gone back to the time of 78s, but certainly 45s and long-playing albums.

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12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Yours was Vaudeville.

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

I am being heckled that mine was vaudeville. That is a good heckle, but it is not true.

At that juncture, artists would go into a studio, record an album and receive benefits from the sale of that album. Regardless of the format, that template had been set and pretty much followed through the age of cassette players and CDs. There was a revenue stream realized by the creators of the music. They would go out on tour, and their concerts were opportunities to promote the music and hopefully sell some of their product at merchandise tables afterward or hope that people would be motivated to buy their music in various stores.

At one time there was a great Canadian institution like Sam the Record Man and today we have seen the downscale of HMV. Many independent record stores have closed their doors because the industry has changed so much. There were companies that invested in artists over the years. Sony Music used to have branches in the country. It would work with and invest in up-and-coming artists so they could hone their skills and bring their music to a broader audience. There is no longer that type of investment, because the industry has changed so much.

I have a young fellow who is fairly musically inclined. He is studying music at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, but he also plays in a little rock band, Back Pocket Material.

Number one, a person can go into a studio now, and the digital technology is there. A group can go to a friend's house and record absolutely excellent-quality sound. At one time, only professionals could create that kind of sound, but with the digital technology now, it is really at everybody's disposal.

Rather than laying down tracks and creating an album, the band wants to get music recorded so they can put it on the Internet and get it into the hands of potential fans so that they can hear the music and get it for nothing. Hopefully, if fans get it for nothing, they'll get excited about the band's music and will come out to the shows and pay admission. That will continue to come back to the band; the band will continue to grow and improve, and hopefully it will pursue a career in music. However, it is just a completely different approach to developing this craft than we would have seen even 10 years ago, and certainly 15 years ago.

As I said, there has been some contrary opinion. Just reading through the testimony from committee, we have seen contrary opinion being shared by a host of individuals and groups. The Canadian Research Chair, Michael Geist; the Retail Council of Canada; the Canadian Council of Archives; and the Documentary Organization of Canada strongly oppose this legislation.

The main aspect of the legislation is the digital locks provisions. They find it overly restrictive. They believe that similar restrictions that have been placed in the United States have proved detrimental to the development of artists, so they are very concerned about that. The critics would have liked some amendments brought forward.

On the other side of that, large business groups, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives have expressed support for the bill, which doesn't surprise me. We have seen a tendency on the part of the government that when the Canadian Chamber of Commerce sort of barks, then these Conservatives tend to jump, whether that is on the skills development agenda, EI reform, or whatever it might be, and that seems to be the path the government follows.

Still, big players in the industry: Google, Bell and Rogers have all expressed support for the bill, in principle, but again, concerns around the digital provisions and the digital lock-out provisions.

Really, with the digital lock-out provisions, there is potential to make criminals out of ordinary Canadians. If a mom buys a DVD and has a movie for the kids, and she wants to put that on her iPad or she wants to put that on her computer and play it in the van, and many of the new vans are now equipped with that type of technology, she compromises herself and puts herself at risk for being charged for making a copy of that. Taking any kind of recording and having it burned onto a CD, after paying for the music, but just taking it and putting it in a different format now places an individual at risk of being charged criminally.

There was a chance to step back from those measures. Amendments were put forward at committee that would have averted that, but those amendments were totally disregarded.

I should not be surprised. I have been here long enough now and nothing about this should surprise me. The fact is that we were here for 23 hours, voting on amendments to a 450-page budget bill, a bill that impacted on the environment, on fisheries and oceans, on natural resources, and on many different sectors with changes in 70 different pieces of legislation, which went through. Not as much as a comma changed during the course of that debate. There were 800 amendments put forward. They were grouped into 150-odd groups for voting purposes, but there were 800 amendments and the government found none of them worthy.

When the government brought forward the omnibus bill on crime, my colleague from Mount Royal put forward a number of amendments in particular areas. There was one aspect of the bill that he was in total support of, and he offered the amendments only to enhance and improve that aspect of the legislation. They were totally dismissed by the government.

When the bill came back here for report stage, we know that the Minister of Justice tried to enter those exact same amendments at report stage and was ruled out of order by the Speaker. We know that when the bill went to the Senate, those amendments were put in at the Senate. Those changes were made, I believe, because they were in contravention of the charter. They did improve the legislation.

Therefore, the government used the back door. It used the Senate—

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12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Perhaps the hon. member can wind up through questions and comments.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's speech and some of the important aspects he is trying to get across. We have to realize that this is a very important piece of legislation that has to address an entire industry. We can only do that by trying to find a balance. That is what this legislation has effectively done, provide a balance with flexibility built in, so that when individual concerns come up, we are able to address them.

With respect to the legislation, we want to strengthen our ability to compete in the global digital economy. This is important for Canada because it is a global digital economy.

I hope the member understands that while the aspects he is bringing up are important, as the minister stated earlier, there is flexibility within the bill to deal with situations as they may arise, as the bill goes forward, and it attempts to provide the protection that is required by both the consumers and the industry to make us competitive globally.

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12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the intervention and the comment from my colleague. These issues have been brought up and addressed, and amendments have been proposed at committee.

I will read into the record a quote from U.K. Professor Ian Hargreaves. He is the author of a 2011 report to the British government on intellectual property. In his presentation he states:

I don't think there is any doubt at all that there is a substantial online infringement problem. My own view is that a substantial online infringement problem will not be satisfactorily addressed until the law makes reasonable sense to reasonable people. Therefore, in the UK case for example, the continued unlawfulness of copying a song from a laptop to an MP3 player is something which has not been tenable for really quite some time. The law needs to be sensible.

That is what we are talking about here when we see a mom taking something off her laptop and burning it onto a DVD so that the kids can watch it in the van. She puts herself at risk of being charged criminally, and that is the reasonableness that I think we were hoping to attain.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague touched on something that is very important. We have to strike a balance. We have to protect creators. We have to ensure that they will get paid for their works.

I remember doing a press conference with Billy Bragg here in Ottawa. He was saying that as an artist he wanted to ensure that his fans would not be locked up and that they should be able to share music. However, we have to find a way to find that balance.

The government has put digital locks forward as a means of protection when we know the locks will not do so. They will actually interrupt that exchange that should be there.

Therefore, I would like to ask the member, could he share with me what he thinks would be a good balance? I think the government has it wrong. It is locking up that relationship between the artists and those who want to use the information. What is the balance, how do we get there, and how would he ensure that there is an equal playing field?

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, my colleague cites the essence of the problem. It is in the balance. I am certainly no expert on this, but I have had an opportunity to speak to artists as well.

Rex Goudie, a fine upstanding young singer-songwriter from Newfoundland, a Canadian Idol runner-up, is driving a truck to supplement his income and develop as an artist. Artists are very concerned about the provisions in this legislation. Bruce Guthro, who has his own career, is concerned about it for other up-and-coming artists.

Certainly from the testimony I read, I do not believe the balance has been struck. I am comfortable where our party stands now, that we will not be supporting this legislation because there is an absence of balance in the legislation.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Madam Speaker, good morning, after a marathon of debate and voting in the last 30 hours.

I would like to focus on some of the practical everyday aspects and impacts of this bill, legislation which the Liberal Party of Canada will not be supporting.

There are a few things that viewers and people reading Hansard might want to know. This bill is a carbon copy of a previous copyright bill, old Bill C-32, which had been brought before the House. The government has refused to amend the bill in any way, shape, or form, either through legislative amendments put by parties, or based on the sound evidence and testimony given by folks who deal with this sector day in and day out.

Let us look at some of the testimony we heard at the industry committee just in the last seven days.

It deals with the question of digital locks. As my colleague said, it would say to families, housewives, fathers and single moms or dads that when taking their kids to a soccer tournament, for example, they would not be able to copy a film to play in the car during the eight-hour ride to Windsor. If they did make a copy, they would be subject to prosecution.

There are a couple of other elements.

We heard from the CEO of UBM TechInsights, which is an Ottawa-based world-class company. Its job is to protect intellectual property for creators and owners. It is sort of like a CSI crime lab. It helps inventors and owners in the intellectual property area.

Mr. Harry Page, the CEO of the company, explained to the committee that his company employs some very extensive reverse engineering technologies, so-called forensic techniques. They are used to help people identify instances where there is an infringement. It helps them prove that to enforce their intellectual property rights.

The problem, of course, is that the digital lock measures in the bill would prevent that company from breaking a digital lock even if it is placed on a device by someone who is pirating another company's hardware or software.

Why would the government want to make it illegal for a company like UBM TechInsights to break a digital lock to prove a theft, for example, on behalf of a client? It makes no sense. Why would the government aid and abet software pirates? Why is the government not protecting companies like UBM TechInsights that have hundreds of employees and carry out this work on a global basis?

There is another practical example of the impact this legislation would have.

Campus Stores Canada testified at committee. It is a major supplier of books in the academic settings across the country, in colleges, CEGEPs and universities. Its representative said that the bill would have a negative impact on more than 100 vendor and supplier associates. The Campus Stores Canada representative testified that the new copyright act would increase the cost of Canadian textbooks by as much as 15%.

I am blessed with four kids at home, three of whom are in college and university, and I can attest to my own kids' struggles with the cost of textbooks. They work at part-time jobs and search long and hard for used textbooks, which are often not available. They have to buy new textbooks every year. That is the way the teaching system works. It is hard for young people.

Why, as the Campus Stores Canada representative testified, would it want to bring in a 15% increase on the over one million students that it serves? Of course, the company does not want to do this, but this is another practical impact of what the government is pursuing.

There is a third example, and it was picked up on by my colleague a moment ago when he read into the record some testimony from Professor Ian Hargreaves. Professor Ian Hargreaves is not just another professor in the area of intellectual property. He was the person who conducted the definitive study in Britain last year on intellectual property. It is the number one study in the United Kingdom.

It is important for Canada to look to other jurisdictions to determine how they have done it comparatively. They are struggling with the same thing.

I want to re-emphasize what Professor Hargreaves said in committee in the last several days. It was basically that the notion that informs this legislation, which is something that the conservative movement has seized upon now in its present form for many years, is about tougher enforcement. The government is going to be tougher about enforcement. We often hear that, and we often ask why the government would not want to be as tough on the causes of crime, for example, as the government says it is on the crime itself.

Professor Hargreaves said that the United Kingdom has a law in place making it unlawful to copy a song from a laptop to an MP3 player. He basically said that this was a big mistake. It has not worked in the United Kingdom. He went on to say, “The continued unlawfulness of copying a song from a laptop to an MP3 player is something which has not been tenable for really quite some time. The law needs to be sensible.” The law he referred to as making “reasonable sense to reasonable people”.

We have a situation where the government, with full knowledge of other experiences in other jurisdictions, is simply saying it does not want to change or improve this bill. Perhaps the Conservatives are motivated by such partisanship that they cannot accept good amendments from other parties. It is very unfortunate if that is the case. Perhaps they are under inordinate pressure and undue influence from the United States, which has a very powerful entertainment industry. Perhaps they are under pressure from forces in Los Angeles and Hollywood that are very worried about the growth of Canada's film industry, of the success in Toronto and Vancouver and even in cities like my city, Ottawa, where increasing numbers of films and recordings are being pursued.

I do not know what the motivation is, but it is unfortunate that the government does not see fit to work with Parliament. That is why we come to work here every day. We come to work to improve things. We have here a case where the definitive author of the biggest study in the United Kingdom in years testified that it just does not work, so why do we not actually pursue another way?

That is why we put forward a number of amendments to try to overcome these difficulties. We ask again, why will the government not amend Bill C-11 to allow consumers to break a digital lock for personal use, for what we call non-infringing purposes? Why would the government want to send a signal to the millions of Canadians who occasionally copy this kind of material for personal use that they had better watch out because they are going to be hunted down? It sort of portrays, and I am not sure if it is ignorance or just an unwillingness to see where society is on these issues.

I have four teenage kids who spend a lot of time doing creative work, listening to creative work, participating in creative work. It is now part and parcel of what they do in school. It is part and parcel of what they do in society.

Seniors are increasingly turning to online solutions. Very many seniors in my riding of Ottawa South are now doing online banking. They are pursuing online entertainment searches. Some of them have mobility problems, or perhaps are disabled.

I do not understand why the government has this pig-headedness, this hard-headedness about not wanting to improve the bill based on these practical issues that have been raised and practical solutions that have been proffered by both the U.K. experience and by parliamentarians here on the floor.

I would like to close by saying that, yes, it is important to improve and modernize our Copyright Act, but it is not a serious venture when the government carbon copies the previous facsimile of it, brings it to the floor of the House, and says, “Here, do it again. We are not interested in improving this,” when there is goodwill and good faith to do so.

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12:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question.

Does he agree that this copyright reform has a lot in common with the policies of our neighbours to the south, and that it is basically a cut-and-paste job? Is the government essentially copying the American vision, adding nothing more than a “Royal Canadian” sticker?