An Act to amend the Copyright Act

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Jim Prentice  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of June 12, 2008
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Copyright Act in order to

(a) update the rights and protections of copyright owners to better address the Internet, in line with international standards;

(b) clarify the liability of Internet service providers;

(c) permit certain uses for educational and research purposes of Internet and other digital technologies to facilitate technology-enhanced learning, inter-library loans, the delivery of educational material and access to publicly available material on the Internet;

(d) permit certain uses of copyright material for private purposes; and

(e) amend provisions of the Act relating to photographs to give photographers the same rights as other creators.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

May 11th, 2010 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you to the witnesses here today.

Mr. Engelhart, first I want to get something out of the way. You talked about network PVRs and Bill C-61, and I just want to mention to you that I personally support your view on that. I think if the content owners or creators and the cable companies can come to an agreement on how they should be reimbursed for that content, I can't understand what the difference is between a network PVR and one on top of the television screen. I think the Copyright Act should be flexible in recognizing that as well. I think it's a very important innovation. As we move forward, we don't want to see Canada becoming a laggard, so you have my support on that.

Some of the things that really stifle innovation and that we don't talk enough about are things like fees and taxes. You talked about how we're paying substantially more for copyright. We're paying for format-shifting at the radio stations; in some cases, four times. To me that's not a support of Canadian content; in fact, it's stifling the actual promoters of Canadian content. It doesn't help them get that Canadian content message out. If anything, it keeps them in old formats. It prevents them from doing things like you're speaking about, such as launching Internet radio stations that would literally assist us in blasting this out around the globe. It's hurting our innovation.

I want to get your opinion of the value-for-signal decision, which you mentioned. To me, I don't think there has been a bigger assault on Canadian content than that specific decision; it puts all of the value in an over-the-air network that's going to come to you and want to negotiate the value of their signal and the ability to shut off the U.S. network. That's their trump card. And it's only the U.S. content they can shut off. So it seems to me this is a huge shot at Canadian content, something the CRTC is actually charged to protect.

I also think it's a violation of section 27 of NAFTA, which indicates that if a signal isn't broadcast by a Canadian rights holder, the U.S. signal must prevail. I'm really dumbfounded, to be honest with you, by the decision—which is now supported solely by CTV. It doesn't benefit the CBC at all; the CRTC put them on the sidelines. CanWest and the owners of CanWest have specifically come out and said they didn't want it. Shaw said they didn't want it. CORA said they didn't want it. The Jim Pattison Group said they didn't want it.

Can I get your views on this? We haven't heard you at our committee since the decision of the CRTC, and I'd just like to hear what you have to say on it.

May 11th, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.
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Senior Vice-President, Regulatory, Rogers Communications Inc.

Kenneth Engelhart

If Rogers succeeds in harnessing digital technology to modernize its cable television service, it means that the CRTC can continue to impose the Canadian content regulations it imposes today. These have served Canadian cultural industries well. For example, 55% of a television network's content has to be Canadian. However, if all television content migrates to the Internet, Canadian television will lose the benefit of Canadian content quotas.

We need the CRTC to adopt flexible policies to aid us in this transition, and with one notable exception they have. They have allowed us to put television programs on video-on-demand and to insert fresh ads so that broadcasters will have an incentive to provide programming to us. They have not imposed taxes or fees on our Internet service. They have indicated a willingness to allow us to sell ads on our U.S.- originated cable programming to pay for a targeted ad system, as U.S. operators do.

The one area of concern we have is the CRTC's recently announced value-for-signal decision. This will require us to pay large amounts for linear television at a time when customers are increasingly moving away from linear TV to watching on-demand and online.

There are also policies the federal government could adopt. For example, pursuant to section 19 of the Income Tax Act, Canadian firms cannot claim advertising expenses as an income tax deduction when they advertise in U.S. magazines or border TV stations.

The same rule should apply to U.S. websites. This will make it more expensive to place ads, for example, on Hulu, if it comes to Canada. The aim should be to make sure that Canadian advertisers prefer Canadian-owned and -operated services.

Federal tax credits should also be available for online content. The existing rules only allow credits for filmed entertainment production. Some provinces have moved in this direction, such as B.C., Ontario, and Quebec.

Canadian copyright payments are also out of control. We pay more copyright both for online and traditional media than U.S. media companies pay. This makes it hard for us to adapt and compete. For example, digital copies of music are more costly to download online than if purchased on a CD because of copyright tariffs and levies. Piling on additional copyright payments for digital media will continue to drive consumers to acquire music and other copyright products through unlawful file sharing on the Internet and to unregulated U.S. over-the-top providers like YouTube.

It is also a mistake when copyright discourages broadcasters from modernizing their operations. For example, if a radio station plays CDs, they face two different copyright payments. If they load the CDs into a server, they could have to make four more payments. Canadian radio stations pay twice as much in copyright payments as American radio stations. This is particularly disturbing since over half of the copyright payments go outside of Canada.

Canadian copyright payments need to be kept in check or Canadian radio broadcasting will not be able to compete against the Internet or other new technologies. This is one reason why we don't have Internet radio stations, and are now inundated with foreign services from more cost-effective territories.

In the U.S., PVRs are becoming more cost-effective by using the network PVR. A PVR is just a digital cable box with a hard drive in it. The network PVR centralizes the hard drive at the cable company's primary headquarters. This means that all digital boxes can be PVRs, giving all customers the flexibility of the PVR at a greatly reduced cost.

The last version of amendments to Canada's Copyright Act, Bill C-61, specifically prohibited the use of the network PVR by cable operators. We think this a mistake that should be corrected in the next copyright bill.

Rogers recommends a balanced approach to copyright reform and implementation of the WIPO treaties that will continue to reward innovation and creativity.

If we succeed in our vision of providing customers with television on any platform, it clearly will be good for our business. As discussed before, it will also allow the continuation of the Canadian content regulatory system. It will also allow creators of artistic and cultural content to be compensated for their works. An environment where all content is available free on the Internet does not provide the creator the ability to be compensated for their works. Our model will preserve the existing value chain and allow all providers to be compensated.

We do not believe changes to foreign ownership rules will have an impact on Canadian culture and content. Canada's foreign ownership rules can be changed for telecommunications carriers and cable companies. These businesses are primarily pipes that carry content. The foreign ownership rules can be preserved for the content providers. Radio and TV stations and specialty channels can remain in Canadian hands. This would provide the capital-intensive distributors with lower-cost access to foreign capital while ensuring that the vital content producers are Canadian.

Thank you.

April 20th, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.
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General Counsel and Director, Policy and External Affairs, Access Copyright

Roanie Levy

When you create an exception where a copyright holder, a user, a rights holder, is not paid for the use of the work, I think you need to be sure that you create parameters on what the use is, because you are encroaching on someone's ability to be compensated for the use of the work. It's a question of whether the 30 days should have been 30 days--should it have been there or not?

But what I would like to point out is that since Bill C-61, the rights holders have gotten together and have filed a tariff that covers exactly the same uses. When you let the market determine how the uses are going to be made, you're going to see that you don't need as many parameters. So--

April 20th, 2010 / 11:45 a.m.
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André Cornellier Co-Chair, Chief Executive Officer of La Maison de l'image et de la photographie, Canadian Photographers Coalition

My name is André Cornellier. I'm an artist and a photographer. I'm also a director of UMA, La Maison de l'image et de la photographie, and I represent the Canadian Photographers Coalition, which represents 14,000 workers in the photography industry.

Thank you to the distinguished members of the committee for hearing us today.

You are asking about what is affecting our industry in the digital age and what you can do to help us. I will talk about one thing you could do to help us and one thing you should not do.

First, let's talk about how you can help us. Photographers from here do not have the same rights as other Canadian artists or other photographers in industrialized countries. Subsection 10(2) of Canada's Copyright Act provides that copyright belongs to the person who owns the negative. There is no negative in the digital age. Furthermore, why would copyright belong to the person who buys the film rather than the artist who created the work? Is copyright given to the person who supplies the guitar or the artist who composes the work?

The present government introduced an amendment, in the spring of 2008, in Bill C-61, which repealed subsections 10(2) and 13(2) and restored copyright to the photographer. We would like the present Conservative government to make the same amendment in the next bill, particularly since the Liberals also proposed that amendment in 2005 in Bill C-60.

Now let's talk about what the government should not do. The government should ensure that the Internet is accessible to everyone everywhere. It should ensure that the information highway is accessible everywhere at an affordable cost. That will assist in the development of commerce and Canadian culture. At the same time, it must resist the idea of making content free of charge. When the government builds roads and highways for goods and services to be accessible everywhere, what is transported on them is not free of charge. Making something available does not mean making it free of charge. It means that what is not available in a region is now available there and that people can now buy it.

What is the interest in building a refrigerator if it becomes free of charge because you transport it on a highway? Does selling shoes rather than giving them away undermine the shoe business? Does that make it so no other companies create new shoes?

The same is true for the Internet. Creating the information highway does not mean that what is transported on it must be free of charge. The right to own and enjoy one's inventions and creations is a fundamental right for a fair business. This actually encourages creation. Is the claim being made that you encourage creation by making everything free of charge? Where then is the encouragement?

When we advocate compliance with copyright, we're told that we are undermining creation, that we understand nothing, that we should deal with the new ideas and new needs of the digital revolution. A seminar was held in Toronto on April 29 and 30, 2008. It was attended by all segments of Canadian culture, representing all opinions on copyright. More than 140,000 creators in all fields were represented there: music, visual arts, performing arts, writing, film and video. There were also promoters of a free Internet, those who are opposed to copyright. There were the promoters of the Creative Commons. There was Mr. Geist, there were “appropriationist” artists and a number of representatives of the next generation, the young generations. All ideas and all ages were represented there.

One young artist, in his twenties, made a presentation on one of his creations. It was a three-minute video. He had taken hundreds of images off the Internet and had assembled them in layers. His creations consisted of numerous recombined images. The video images were collages. Hundreds of collages one after the other composed a symphony of highly coloured images. He explained that, if he had had to request copyright permission for each of those images, it would have taken him months and cost tens of thousands of dollars. He therefore asked that copyright be abolished on the Internet and that an exemption be introduced so that he exempt from copyright since it was holding back his creativity.

We told him about a hypothetical case. If a company, such as Ubisoft, for example, created a new electronic game and, liking his pictures, decided to take them off the Internet and include them in their software, to use them to package a product or whatever else, that shouldn't be a problem for him. He answered without hesitation that he would sue them.

On January 30 last, I was in the offices of a young design firm in Montreal. During a conversation, the two designers, knowing that I worked for the recognition of copyright, told me that I didn't understand the needs of their generation. One of them told me he was making music and that they preferred to distribute their music on the Internet so that people could download it free of charge so that they could make themselves known. As a result of that, the old models that I supported were no longer valid. There should be no more copyright.

I asked him if there would be a problem if a group in Canada or the United States liked their music and wanted to record it and distribute it on a CD and over the Internet. He answered without hesitation that he would sue them.

There are hundreds of examples of this kind. They all say they don't want copyright so as not to inhibit their creativity or the distribution of their creations, but they all want to sue those who appropriate their works. How could they sue if there was no act protecting them?

This doesn't show that they don't want copyright; it shows only one thing: ignorance of copyright. When you carefully listen and try to understand their thinking, you understand that they want to be able to decide when to share their creations free of charge and when to profit from them. The right to decide where, when and how you want to share your creations is called copyright.

Current copyright effectively achieves its mission and protects creators old and new, those of yesterday and those of tomorrow. It enables them to give away their works free of charge or to profit from them and to create new original works. Do not open the door to all these exemptions that are asked of you. The exemptions you create today to allegedly facilitate creation will in future turn against those who requested them and they will not be able to protect their own works. Giving permission to plagiarize encourages plagiarists, not talent. Real artists have never been afraid of any constraints. Respect for rights encourages creation. If you give in today to requess for exemptions, in 20 years, they'll be the first ones to criticize you, and rightly so, for not protecting their creations and their property.

Thank you.

April 15th, 2010 / 12:20 p.m.
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Documentary Filmmaker, EyeSteelFilm Inc.

Brett Gaylor

Viva Google.

Homelessnation.org is another project that my colleagues have embarked upon to try to bridge the digital divide. We work with homeless shelters, and other people who work with Canadians who are homeless or living in poverty, to help them to train themselves in digital literacy, more or less. We help them blog, we help them create short films, we help them create audio works.

Now, this is clearly a project that does not have, nor is intended to have, a business model. This was supported through initiatives from wings of our government that no longer exist. I believe they have been put into Service Canada and the National Film Board.

The challenge was that funding for it eventually ran out; however, that website is now self-sustaining. The folks who we helped to learn those skills have now taken this site over on their own. It's a very vibrant website of over 5,000 active users. A lot of the challenges that Mr. Anders described, in building a community and outreach, they've done themselves. It was through that runway that we were able to get there. So it's an interesting example of social innovation.

With opensourcecinema.org, that's the website we created to build Rip. This was a website where I was, in an unconventional way, releasing the source material--if I can say it that way--of my documentary, inviting others to participate and create it together. We wanted to create a Wikipedia-type process for creating a documentary film.

Again, we had some support through the Canadian Film Centre and a fund that was set up by Telus. Then we had some other private funds in there. The challenges of that have certainly been those of incumbency, so with a lot of the funds we're only allowed to access them once we have a broadcaster, and that's an evolving model.

It's interesting that Jeff brought up Flattr, because I think a lot of people would recognize that as a very reasonable way to compensate some authors. It's interesting to note that this project was started by the founders of The Pirate Bay. Again, those are people who a lot of us in this room, especially as creators, would have a lot of beef with.

In making Rip, I had to study the history of copyright law and its intersection with technology. In pretty much every generation there is one group called “pirates”, and in the next generation they are called “admirals”. This debate was fought over radio, this was fought over the player piano, and of course it was famously fought over the VHS recorder, which spurned an entire industry. I think we're in the process of fighting that out over the Internet.

There are some really smart people who have put a lot of thought into how to compensate authors in an age when books are going to be digitized and music is going to be available. It is not a matter of “if”. We are already living it--right now. As much as we want to discuss in this room whether it's appropriate, it is happening.

I feel that your responsibility is to help us create environments where the proper business models can emerge rather than constantly trying to stop it...or in fact, as in the case of Bill C-61, the breaking of technological protection measures. Now that was protecting a technology that the industry had actually abandoned, in the case of audio recordings.

So I think we need to create environments that are very nimble. We need to have a fairly light touch, but we do need a touch.

April 14th, 2010 / 7:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, the member had an opportunity to apologize for an outrageous allegation, suggesting that the Minister of Industry has stolen music, but she did not. That is outrageous and I wish she had taken the opportunity to apologize.

In fact, her party did not support Bill C-61 and neither did the other opposition parties. If they had, we would have had a new copyright regime in this Parliament instead of using it as a wedge issue.

With respect to my not understanding the file, I understand consumers. I understand people at home are working hard and paying a lot of money in taxes. I think they pay too much tax, but all the opposition members see is opportunities to tax: here a tax, there a tax, everywhere a tax, tax. I understand that, and I will not be party to a regime that thinks we can tax people as much as it wants and there will not be implications. It is nonsense.

April 14th, 2010 / 7:20 p.m.
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Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, the comments made by the member are borderline. They are ridiculous and certainly inflammatory. The member alleges that the Minister of Industry has illegally downloaded songs on to his iPod with absolutely no evidence. I would guarantee the minister has paid for the music on his iPod, because he is a pretty upstanding guy and he understands these things.

This is nothing but a smoke show. Where was this passion for artists when we brought in Bill C-61 in the last Parliament for copyright? If the same members who stood tonight in favour of the iPod tax or the tax on digital memory would have stood up for copyright to protect the artists that the member now claims to support, we would have had a regime to protect them, to protect intellectual property and to protect cultural creations like music. However, the member did not do that, neither did her party and neither did the other opposition parties. They used it as a wedge issue.

Now she stands up and says that she is here to support artists. She is not here to support artists. She voted in favour of a tax. All the opposition parties voted this evening in favour of a tax, a tax on digital memory, a tax on iPods, a tax on PDAs, a tax on anything that stores digital memory.

Here is some news for the people at home. If people have devices that not only store photos, but also store music, 100% of the opposition members think those people should pay a tax for the music, even if they bought it for photos. However, that is their solution because they like taxes. They think they can wave a wand over things and make money appear, and it does not harm anyone. We could take millions and millions of dollars from Canadian consumers, create a great fund to hand out and take credit for, but it would not harm anyone. It is nonsense. When will those members stand up for consumers?

Instead of making outrageous allegations against the Minister of Industry, why does she not talk to the consumers in her riding and find out how much more they think they should have to pay for these devices. What do they think would be fair? It is nonsense and it is ridiculous. She should get in touch with her constituents. I can guarantee her that they do not support an increase in tax on iPods and all forms of digital memory devices.

Let us put it this way. I will give the member the opportunity to apologize for the outrageous allegations she made against the Minister of Industry.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 13th, 2010 / 7:10 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The iPod levy was not in Bill C-61, so again I think she is mistaking it. She needs to explain what the complaints were because it was not in the bill.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 13th, 2010 / 7:05 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not think it would be unfair to say that the government is probably the greatest group of underachievers we have seen in some time. I do not know how many times we heard that the Conservatives discovered an interactive website and got consultations. That would not have been bad five years ago, but if that is as good as it gets five years on, that is pretty pitiful.

I remember the very first Conservative heritage minister coming before our committee on the very first day. That minister made one really clear promise. She said that we would have new copyright legislation by Christmas. We all grew long beards waiting and it never happened. Then Bill C-61 came along. Bill C-61 was the government's response. I have never seen a piece of legislation brought forward with such great fanfare that was then pulled so quickly because it was ridiculed as a dog's breakfast.

Now we are in “consultations”. I am concerned about the consultations because the member does not have her facts right. She keeps calling the levy a tax and saying that it would impose an $80 fee. Who is writing her notes? I want to know, because when the Federal Court looked at the issue of the iPod levy in 2005, that $80 figure was not anywhere to be seen. We were talking $2 to $5 to $10.

Maybe the government's consultations have gotten mixed up, or maybe it is a case of what the Edmonton Journal said about how the industry minister misrepresented facts and the heritage minister misrepresented facts.

I would like to ask a simple question. What was wrong with Bill C-61 that the government felt it had to go back and engage in thousands and thousands of hours of consultation? What was it specifically about Bill C-61 that the government was so embarrassed it had to pull it off the table?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 26th, 2010 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is right. The empowerment of the individual through the computer mouse is incredible. It is at a stage now where I cannot fully comprehend it.

At this stage in the game though, he and I are kind of looking at this from two different directions. I look at this motion as a vanguard, or that beginning spark, in this House to say, “What is it that we are going to do?” We are going to be left behind in legislation, just like we are left behind on WIPO, so the copyright legislation that we are talking about here has to look at all this.

One of the things that Michael Geist talked about in his intervention was that we need copyright legislation that is flexible, one that is illustrative, not exhaustive. That is a valid point. That is where Bill C-61 went wrong because it was overly prescriptive in nature. There are 12 ways in which one can break the law in certain areas, when in fact it should be illustrative, as to say, “This is what we need. This is the spirit of the law, which says that one is stealing something as opposed to using it fairly”.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 26th, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very pertinent question. Indeed, yesterday, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage heard the well-known Michael Geist, who gave an extremely astute presentation on the comprehensive digital strategy. While he said some very pertinent things on some points, on others I would say that he is out of touch with artists.

I agree completely with Mr. Geist when he says that we need a comprehensive digital strategy. In the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, only the Conservative members did not get that. We could see it again this morning with the Canada media fund. This is a new patch for digital because the government has no strategy and no vision for the transition to digital or for digitization. There is only tinkering around the edges while Michael Geist thinks, like me, that we need a comprehensive vision.

Mr. Geist is completely right about copyright, as well. Bill C-61 was already obsolete the day it was introduced. It talked about videocassettes when everybody was already using MP3 files. Bill C-61 created all kind of problems and was already obsolete.

I also agree with Michael Geist when he says that we need new copyright legislation. I totally agree with him on that, but I do not agree with his reluctance to give the royalties on iPods to artists on the pretence that they have other sources of income like live shows. I consider that everybody has a right to be paid for what he or she does when he or she does it.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 26th, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I was at committee yesterday when we spoke to Michael Geist. In her speech the member gave the impression that she did not really agree with what he was saying. However, there is one aspect of it with which I think she would agree, which is to say that he did go on to say that further debate is needed on this. I believe in that as well and here is why.

The copyright issue has never faced a full debate in the House even though several bills have been introduced. It was debated back in the early part of the last decade but since bills C-60 and C-61 there really has not been a full vetting of what is going on. I think that is what Mr. Geist was also saying and I am sure she would agree.

Would the member agree that furthering the debate certainly would be beneficial for us as parliamentarians?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 26th, 2010 / 12:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I move that the 1st report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, presented on March 17, be concurred in.

I will discuss the issues related to the motion. Today, the Bloc Québécois is moving adoption of the report.

I will begin by reading the motion passed by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

That the Committee recommends that the government amend Part VIII of the Copyright Act so that the definition of “audio recording medium” extends to devices with internal memory, so that the levy on copying music will apply to digital music recorders as well, thereby entitling music creators to some compensation for the copies made of their work.

There can be no doubt that people must be paid for their work. All workers have the right to earn wages, even my colleagues and me. Artists and craftspeople have the right to be paid for what they do and create. Consumers have the right to load the CDs they have legally purchased onto their iPods without feeling like they are breaking the law every time, without feeling like criminals.

The motion I presented to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which was adopted, sought to update existing legislation. Since the 1990s, there has been an exception in the Copyright Act to do with private copying.

The exception allows consumers to copy material for their personal use. In return, they are asked to pay a tiny fee when purchasing the blank medium they use to make copies. Everyone here has paid this fee, and I am sure that I have too. It is 24¢ for audio cassettes, although very few people buy those nowadays. For CDs, the fee is 29¢.

The problem is that CD sales have declined dramatically, but consumption of music has not. There is a problem. Video cassettes are not included in the Copyright Act's private copying exception and never have been. Some might think that is too bad, but it took a long time to update this 1997 legislation.

Two years ago, the Conservative government introduced Bill C-61. The bill proposed adding video cassettes to the list. Unfortunately, the process took so long that nobody was even using them anymore, or at least, very few people were back then, and even fewer still use them now. The technology has become obsolete.

To avoid having the same thing happen with MP3 players and iPods, the Bloc Québécois is proposing, by means of the motion I had adopted by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, that we act swiftly to keep up with advances in technology and add iPods and MP3 players.

Unlike what the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages claims, this has nothing to do with BlackBerrys, laptops or iPhones. The minister is using scare tactics. We are talking about MP3 players, and the most well-known brand is the iPod.

This is not complicated. We are not trying to wage a new war. We do not want to change a principle. The principle is already there; it exists in the legislation. We are not trying to create a new one. We simply want to modernize the Copyright Act and add this temporary solution while we wait for a new Copyright Act. Since technology is developing quickly, we are worried that a new technology could already be invented and in use before we have a new Copyright Act and that it will be too late. As I mentioned earlier, we must act quickly.

I would like to give a bit of history. I remind members that in its 2003-04 decision on the private copying tariff, the Copyright Board of Canada approved the application by the Canadian Private Copying Collective, the CPCC, to have levies collected on flash memory cards embedded in iPods and other MP3 players, which the commission designated as digital audio recorders.

The Federal Court then ruled that the commission had erred in its decision and threw out the CPCC's case. Since then, this collective has tried to speed up the modernization of the act and to have it changed to include MP3 players, which is a good thing. The goal is essentially to ensure that artists are paid for their work.

I have an example to show that artists are not always paid for their work. On December 3, the Minister of Industry, a Conservative minister, gave a radio interview with CBC. During that interview, he bragged to host George Stroumboulopoulos that he had downloaded 10,000 songs to his iPod. He bragged about it.

The interviewer, Mr. Stroumboulopoulos, asked him twice whether he had obtained all those tracks legally and the minister started laughing. The interviewer repeated the question and asked the Minister of Industry again whether all the tracks had been obtained legally and he laughed again. He was unable to clearly state that he had acquired all the tracks legally and that all the music he had downloaded onto his iPod had been paid for in accordance with the Copyright Act.

Yesterday, in the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, a respected university professor, Michael Geist, told us it is not so bad if artists, singers and musicians do not get paid for all their recordings because they can make up for those losses by putting on shows and earn money in other ways. He was reluctant to agree with a levy on MP3s.

I asked him whether he would agree to being hired as a university professor, but not paid. I told him that he is now known as a university professor and he could give talks and find other sources of income. He did not answer my question. In any event, it was not the best of questions; comparisons are always clumsy. Nonetheless, people have to get paid for their work and not just for things they do on the side.

When an artist makes a recording they have to rent a recording studio, and the recording studio does not give shows all across Quebec, Canada or the world. Professionals, sound engineers and the producer make the recording. I am talking about music, but there are also visual artists and authors whose work ends up on iPods and MP3s. The photographers, the printers and the cover designers all have to get paid for their work.

How can we expect all those people to earn an income any other way? It is unthinkable.

Last Friday we got some surprising support from the Edmonton Journal. I want to bring this editorial to the attention of the House. It ran last Friday, one week ago today. I will read the editorial in French. I tried to translate it, but I am not a professional translator. I have a lot of respect for translators. This is more of an interpretation, and I did the best I could. I chose certain sentences, so it is not a word-for-word translation and I hope that you will not judge my translation skills. Please do not think that I am bragging.

The title is Creative content must be paid for, which I translated as On doit payer pour le contenu artistique . I hope that that is correct and that I started off on the right foot.

Before I begin reading, I should say that the same day I managed to have a motion adopted authorizing a levy for artists on the purchase of iPods, the member for Timmins—James Bay, my NDP colleague, introduced a bill containing exactly the same proposal. Obviously, the Edmonton Journal is talking more about the actions of a federalist member than a Bloc member. It is surprising enough that it would support someone from the NDP; we would never have expected it to go so far as to support a motion from the Bloc. But the objective is what counts, and the Edmonton Journal supports it and ran a whole article about it. This is what it had to say. Once again, this is not a translation but, rather, an interpretation.

It's not surprising, says the Edmonton Journal, that the people of the world have warmly embraced the idea of getting creative content for free. Most of us understandably prefer not paying for something whenever possible, even when securing the product gratis technically breaks a rarely enforced statute.

And the editorial in the Edmonton Journal continues.

Downloading music, it says, is a good example because everyone does it. It's true that some of us always dutifully buy our music online, from sources such as iTunes—I would say, rather, sites like Archambault in Quebec—which do distribute royalties, however imperfect the system.

And I would add that this is true for all systems everywhere.

But millions either don't do this, or share with others what they have purchased, making crooks of 11-year-olds, at least in the eyes of the law.

That is how the Edmonton Journal puts it.

Recognizing this reality some years ago, the Canadian government, along with others around the world, began levying a small fee on all blank recording media used to copy music, such as CDs.

Canada's private copying levy—that is its name—was introduced by the Canadian Private Copying Collective, which is a non-profit, independent organization founded in 1997 to distribute monies collected from retailers and consumers to musicians, record companies, publishing firms and other copyright holders.

The sky hasn't exactly fallen in over that legislation, although some retailers, unrepentant pirates and libertarian types have continued a bitter fight railing against the fees for years.

On the other hand, the tough-talking record companies and their agents, who beat the garbage can demanding severe penalties for perceived offenders, must also be taken with a mine shaft of salt.

I repeat, that is the opinion of the Edmonton Journal.

What has changed over the past 13 years is digital technology. These days, most of the file-sharing taking place—and expanding exponentially—involves the next generation of devices. Royalties would be added to the purchase price of only MP3 or IPod players, not computers, tablets or phones. The new legislation would help balance the interests of both consumers and creators.

In this editorial published in the Edmonton Journal, from which I am quoting rather freely, as I said, our colleague from the NDP, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay, is quoted as saying that artists have a right to get paid and consumers have a right to access their works. That is important. Digital locks and suing fans are not going to prevent people from copying music from one format to another. By updating the legislation—I am still quoting the hon. member—, we will ensure that artists are getting paid for their work, and that consumers are not criminalized for downloading their legally-obtained music from one format to another. The comment by the member for Timmins ends here, but the Edmonton Journal editorial continues.

While all this seems like a perfectly reasonable compromise, to hear the Conservative government tell it, it is the Boston Tea Party circa 2010. Personally, I would talk about a revolution. The Minister of Industry, misrepresenting its contents, denounced the bill as “total nonsense”.

One might have thought that the Minister of Canadian Heritage would defend creators, but we know that he defends many causes which are not that of creators. This minister also distorted what was suggested in the proposed legislation, talking as if it included a levy on BlackBerrys, iPhones and laptops, railing oddly that consumers deserve lower, not higher taxes.

According to the Edmonton Journal, it is true that the royalty distribution system in Canada is far from perfect, but record companies have not exactly always been a paragon of fair-dealing when it comes to honestly compensating artists.

The system overlooks lesser known artists. The system is not perfect but it is about time that we, as a society, face the fact that those who create cultural content should be given fair compensation for their work, something we all desire.

The Edmonton Journal added that it usually does not support NDP bills, but that the bill introduced by the member for Timmins—James Bay is fair and balanced and worthy of everyone's support.

As I stated earlier, the bill introduced by the member for Timmins—James Bay is identical, word for word, to the motion we are presently discussing and that I was able to have the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage adopt.

The Edmonton Journal concludes that the Conservatives are clearly playing pandering politics, and that hopefully the opposition parties and independently-minded Conservatives will sign on to a compromise that upholds basic Canadian values of straight dealing.

That is the end of my quotes from the Edmonton Journal,, and the end of my translating. You will have realized that it was a very loose translation. The main ideas are there but I am obviously not a translator.

The Edmonton Journal is not the only one to agree. In general, the public feels that artists should be paid for their work.

A nation-wide poll conducted in June 2006 by Environics Research Group confirmed that 60% of Canadians believe that creators should be compensated when unauthorized recordings are made of their music. The same poll indicated that of those Canadians who make private copies of recorded music, 80% feel that a royalty of 30¢ for CD-Rs and CD-RWs would be fair and reasonable. it currently stands at 29¢.

In a similar vein, 79% of Canadians who make private copies stated that a $40 levy on iPods—which is a lot—or other 30GB digital audio recorder would be fair and reasonable. We should remember that a 30GB iPod costs several hundred dollars and that a $40 levy on an iPod has never been considered. What had been suggested previously was an amount between $2 and $25.

A 30GB digital audio recorder can hold up to 7,500 songs or the equivalent of 500 CDs. That is much more than can be listened to in one week unless that is all you are doing.

On the weekend, in Quebec City, when the Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert riding association presented this same motion to the Bloc Québécois general council, it was our executive's youth representative, Frédéric Burque, who presented it. He is not even 30.

Who supported this important motion presented by the riding association executive? The Forum jeunesse, a strong, energetic, realistic youth wing that is in touch with the concerns of young Quebeckers. It was the Bloc Québécois Forum jeunesse who supported the Bloc motion.

Who voted in favour of the motion recommending royalty levies on iPods? Everyone. It was unanimous. The 75 riding associations, the citizenship committee, the national bureau, the leader of the Bloc Québécois—everyone in the Bloc Québécois, from young to old, agrees with this motion.

In the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, who voted in favour of this motion? How did we manage to adopt this motion in this committee? I moved the motion and my Bloc Québécois colleague from Drummond, who, of course, has the interests of artists at heart, supported it. The member from the NDP was also in favour of such a bill since he introduced a similar one the very same day.

Two of the three Liberal members also voted in favour of the motion; the third abstained. Who was the sixth voter? A Conservative, the chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage himself. The hon. member for Perth—Wellington even wrote a letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and a letter to the Minister of Industry to ask them for changes that would modernize the legislation. The words he used are exactly the same ones used in this motion.

In closing, I hope this motion will be adopted. Unfortunately, it will not become law, but if adopted, it will send a clear message to the Conservative government to change the Copyright Act and make this correction as soon as possible.

This message also means that the new Copyright Act the government is cooking up will have to include an exception for private copying, with levies not only on obsolete audio cassettes, but also on CD-Rs, CD-RWs and digital audio equipment such as MP3 players.

March 25th, 2010 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I certainly appreciate being here.

Mr. Geist, I always find it interesting to listen to you. Thank you very much for your comments here today.

I very much appreciated it when you talked about the silos of telecom broadcasting. I think you're fundamentally right on that. With respect to young people being active on copyright, I can say that's certainly true in my riding. I know a lot of people became active on Bill C-60 and Bill C-61.

I know you were quite a strong opponent of Bill C-61. Some people had the impression that you oppose any copyright measures. But as you've said this morning, you in fact support copyright policy in terms of implementing WIPO “notice and notice” of fair dealing. I appreciate those comments. I think you're recommending to the government that it be a smaller and more streamlined bill that's technologically neutral.

In the discussion on copyright, you also talked about creators and users. It's a real challenge in terms of the new online environment to ensure that creators are compensated for the work they do, including a person who writes a song, a producer, and all the way down the line for any field.

Could you comment on how to ensure that we actually compensate creators in the new online environment?

March 25th, 2010 / 11:25 a.m.
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Prof. Michael Geist

We're in absolute agreement that there is a desperate need for a national digital strategy. I would note that the five areas that I highlighted aren't designed to be comprehensive. When we talk about a digital strategy, I think digital strategy involves a number of other areas as well.

What I've heard from the government, paying attention to the Speech from the Throne and some of the things that the industry minister has said, is that strategy may be forthcoming. So I think a lot of us are waiting with bated breath to see precisely what the government has in mind.

I think you're right, that it is long overdue, and I don't think it's just this government. I think, in many ways, we've spent about 10 years going sideways, doing virtually nothing. If you take a look back, from a digital perspective, we had a very solid strategy in the late 1990s. At the time there was an industry minister, John Manley, who was in that same position for a long time. He took it as one of his issues, and it laid the groundwork for a whole series of policies, from privacy legislation to ensuring that all school were connected to a whole range of different things. I think it was a very positive development.

We have spent the last 10 years, through successive governments from both parties, not doing very much. I think the kind of declining rankings that we see, let's say in the telecom area, is a direct result of that. It's almost resting on our laurels, as it were. So I absolutely agree.

You mentioned the need to deal with copyright. I certainly agree with that, and I also hear from the Speech from the Throne that it's happening. I would note that one of the criticisms we saw when the last bill was introduced, in terms of Bill C-61, aside from the substance—I'm happy to talk about the substance, of course—was the lack of public consultation on this issue. In fairness, last summer the government conducted what was, I thought, the best, most open copyright consultation we have seen. More than 8,000 Canadians took the time to respond to that consultation.

If anything, it provides our elected officials with a clear indicator that this matters, certainly to creator groups and to industry groups but also a huge amount to individual Canadians as well. When you do a government consultation in the middle of the summer and 8,000 people turn up to submit their views, this matters.