An Act to amend the Copyright Act (audio recording devices)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Charlie Angus  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Introduced, as of March 16, 2010
(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 to provide for the imposition of a levy on the manufacturers and importers of audio recording devices.

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.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

November 14th, 2011 / 5:35 p.m.
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Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

A couple of points need to be cleared up, Mr. Speaker.

First, the hon. member opposite said that our government had cut funding for museums. That is not true. We have created two new national museums, increased funding for existing museums and for local museums across the country.

Second, she mentioned PromArt and Trade Routes, two programs costing $7 million. It cost $5 million to deliver $2 million worth of benefits. We eliminated those programs, took that money, gave it to the Canada Council for the Arts, which now has its highest budget ever. We have increased the Canada Council for the Arts budget by 20% with regard to copyright. Therefore, her facts are just wrong. I do not know who wrote her speech, but it is just wrong.

With regard to copyright, the only proposal the NDP members have talked about, and she mentioned it again and again in her speech, is the need to compensate artists, that artists have a right to an income.

The reality is the only proposal that the NDP has put forward on that measure is private member's Bill C-499, by the member for Timmins—James Bay, and it does call for a new tax on consumers. It says that people are downloading MP3s and in this transaction we need to tax that and that money should be collected into the private copying levy and distributed to artists.

I mentioned this as well to the member from the Bloc Québécois, but how does that work with iCloud? How does that work with streaming services? On the proposal from the NDP to compensate artists, even if one agreed with the premise, which I do not, how does that proposal work with streaming media? It is technologically impossible for the proposal of the NDP members to even achieve what they pretend it will achieve. How does it work?

February 17th, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Sweet

At present, Mr. Bouchard, this is the last meeting for February.

After we come back from our constituency week, on March 1 the minister will be here on usage-based billing with the CRTC; Thursday, March 3, will be the Investment Canada Act; Tuesday, the eighth, will be Bill C-568, the census bill; and Thursday, the tenth, will be the Investment Canada Act.

Then we'll go to a constituency week again. We come back and it's Bill C-568. Then it will be the Investment Canada Act on March 24, Bill C-568 on the 29th; and the Investment Canada Act on the 31st.

Does anybody else need clarity? Is there any other debate? Okay.

A recorded vote has been requested. I'll leave that to the clerk.

(Motion negatived: nays 6; yeas 5)

Without any further ado, then, we'll go to the officials for their opening remarks. I hope the committee is fine with the fact that I've given the officials some latitude because of the complexity of the Investment Canada Act and the fact that we're trying to do a full review and give the minister the advantage of Parliament's input. They will go ahead for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Madame Marie-Josée Thivierge, please go ahead. You have the floor.

November 25th, 2010 / 9:15 a.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Minister, in all fairness, your party has attempted to use a levy as a political wedge issue. You've misrepresented the fees that were discussed at the Copyright Board. You've misrepresented the extent of Bill C-499 and what it would cover. You've tried to portray it as some kind of socialist plot. Yet levies are the norm in many countries. We've got Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain that are applying the levy.

I don't know if you've seen the recent Dutch Court of Appeal decision. It said that the right of reproduction must include a compensation plan, which means that the Dutch are likely to extend the levy onto MP3 players as well.

This bill is not technologically neutral; you've targeted out the levy.

You're saying you have an interest in privacy, but I'd like to read a line from the social research council paper that's going to be delivered this December 1 at the WIPO. Paragraph 13 concludes:

We have seen no evidence--and indeed no claims--that enforcement efforts to date have had any impact on the overall supply of pirated goods. Our work suggests, rather, that piracy has grown dramatically by most measures in the past decade, driven by the exogenous factors...[such as] high media prices, low local incomes, technological diffusion, and fast-changing consumer and cultural practices.

Your approach on the locks is a failed approach. We either go to levies or we see that artists are not going to get paid.

Will you continue to use a levy as a political wedge issue, or is this an area where we can find a way to get compensation for artists and get this bill through?

November 15th, 2010 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

First of all, I would like to read the following sentence:[...] we are concerned that Bill C-469 would enable anyone to challenge any regulatory standard at any time, thereby trumping the existing regulatory process and creating regulatory unpredictability.

This is on page 3 of Mr. Broad's brief.

Good afternoon, and thank you to our witnesses for being here.

I would like to say something to my colleague Mr. Blaine. I too, Mr. Blaine, have worked in the environmental field in the past: I practised applied engineering for 20 years. Unfortunately, I am not a lawyer. I must say that my other colleague Mr. Warawa makes the Quebecker in me sit up and take notice whenever he talks to me about Hydro Quebec and says that a federal act could encroach on fields of provincial jurisdiction and jeopardize hydroelectric development. This concerns me particularly because I was a civil engineer. It really upsets me. I hope that my colleagues from the Bloc will be sensitive to this issue, that is to say this bill's potential interference in fields of provincial jurisdiction.

I am thinking for instance of the flooding that occurs when dams are built. Obviously this has important environmental repercussions. When reading the information provided, it appears to me that any citizen could jeopardize the implementation of a project even if it has been approved at the various regulatory stages. Your testimony is almost shocking. I am quite shaken by what you have to say since the substantive principle of the bill is that any Canadian resident has a right to an ecologically balanced and healthy environment. I think that there is a consensus here on this bill.

We are talking about infringing on areas of jurisdiction, we are talking about...

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2010 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.

I, for one, am a strong advocate of reforming Canada's copyright regulations in order to modernize them and ultimately align them with the realities of the 21st century. Yet, despite my belief that Canada is in dire need of a modernized, intellectual property rights regime, the bill fails to realistically address what is needed.

The government has stated that its aim in updating the Copyright Act is not to punish individual users but rather to focus its deterrence and enforcement efforts on distributors and large websites that illegally host copyrighted content.

The first thing we need to know about creating balanced copyright is that we need to engage all the players. Bill C-61, the government's initial attempt at reforming copyright law in Canada was legislation that was so badly constructed it had to be dropped as soon as it was announced. The Conservatives were forced back to the drawing board, so here we are, after another two years of waiting. Unfortunately, they still have not got the message. The lack of thorough consultation has left major questions about the impacts of the bill.

Specifically, whether the bill will achieve the intended objectives is a subject of debate among the various stakeholders affected by copyright reform, including authors, artists, musicians, record labels, book publishers, collective societies, libraries, museums, school associations, software developers, retailers and consumers.

The lack of thorough consultation with independent stakeholders, such as those mentioned above, is troubling, considering the same problem plagued the bill's predecessor. It all seems to me that there needs to be a consensus-building process which takes into account the concerns of all stakeholders in order to wholly legitimatize the regulatory framework being proposed.

On a different note, it is my opinion that the scope of the bill strongly misses the mark through its heightened focus on individual consumers as opposed to going after the more heinous commercial pirates who profit monetarily off the intellectual property of others.

There are two key problems with the Conservative approach to copyright. The first problem is that the rights that are offered in terms of the fair dealing, mashup and parity exemptions can be overridden by the heavy, legal protections being put in place by digital locks.

Under Bill C-32, it is illegal to break a digital lock, even if that lock prevents us from accessing material that we would otherwise be legally entitled to access. In fact, it treats breaking of digital locks for personal use the same as if the lock were being broken for commercial counterfeit.

We oppose the criminalization of consumers, which this aspect of Bill C-32 represents. The government needs to re-evaluate its stance on copyright reform in order to properly address the current realities of the 21st century. Criminalizing hundreds of thousands of individual consumers for simply digitizing their music for personal consumption fails in this regard. We need to focus on commercial piracy, not individual consumption.

I happen to have a seven-year-old daughter who is a huge Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers fan. We must buy as many Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana movies and music as we possibly can in my household. I can rhyme off Hannah Montana songs. I am sure many other MPs who have young children could do the same thing. I will not sing one for the House. I do not want to embarrass myself that badly because I am not a great singer. My daughter has a CD collection but we cannot find CD players, so we need to put those on to our MP3 player. Under the bill, my seven-year-old daughter is now breaking the law.

We need to ensure that we are not criminalizing the consumers. The approach the Conservative government is taking goes far beyond the norms adopted by many of the World Intellectual Property Organization countries, or WIPO. In terms of copyright reform, we have been consistent. We support the fundamental principle of remunerating creators for their content. We have consistently called on the government to bring the WIPO treaty into the House to be ratified. If the government had taken this advice, it would have alleviated a great deal of international pressure and given us the space to create a truly made in Canada approach to digital copyright issues.

The Conservatives had five years to address issues in WIPO, and stalled on the WIPO ratification. Instead, their first run at copyright was constructed entirely behind closed doors and read like a wish list for the U.S. corporate lobby.

The second serious problem with the bill is that a number of previous revenue streams for artist organizations appear to be undermined through exemptions and changes. The most notable of these is the government's decision not to extend the private copying levy on CDs to music-playing devices. This fails to address the reality that more and more consumers are choosing to purchase intellectual property through non-traditional means such as digital music files. The levy worked on cassettes. It worked on writable CDs. However, if it is not updated for MP3 players, the levy will die.

The New Democrats put forward Bill C-499 to update the levy on devices marketed specifically as music players and recorders. The Conservatives have misrepresented this levy. They have used it as a straw man for their mailings attacks in our ridings. They have made up figures for the cost of the levy and have denounced copyright licensing as a killer tax.

Let us see what the national media have to say about this attack on the remuneration of artists. The Edmonton Journal said that the NDP offered a perfectly reasonable compromise, but that the industry minister misrepresented its contents on a bill that is thoughtful and upholds the basic Canadian values of straight dealing.

The National Post was even blunter, saying:

...the government's nonsensical, “Boo! Hiss! No new taxes!” response … is just dumb...

This is the National Post we are talking about, definitely not a progressive bastion that routinely calls for more expansive powers in taxation and regulation. Even this newspaper has shown a willingness to confront the real issues. Why has the government not come to its senses on this matter?

The widespread use of iPods, iPads, and MP3 players, as well as the emergence of products like Kindle, serves as an excellent example of the changing nature of consumption in a technology-driven environment. We must address this gap to ensure that Canada's intellectual property regime is appropriate for the ever-changing technological landscape.

The most obvious criticism that can be made of Bill C-32 is that it fails to address the realities presented to us by 21st-century technology. The fact is that no amount of legislation or legal action will force consumers to return to the business models of the 1990s. The emergence of the digital economy has changed the dynamics of intellectual property. The digital economy is not going away. We need to recognize this. We are attempting to rectify 21st-century problems with 20th-century solutions. Let us be clear. An intellectual property regime designed for the dynamics of the 1990s is not the best means for dealing with the issues of commercial piracy, which is really where our energies need to be focused.

Over the past 20-odd years, technological innovation has led to massive and abrupt changes in the way Canadians live their daily lives. Whether it is the way we get the news, or the way we do our banking, or pay our bills, technology has dramatically altered our consumption habits. Instituting a regulatory regime that fails to observe the significance of the transition to an information technology and e-commerce paradigm will only lead to further failure in distinguishing between commercial piracy and legitimate consumer uses.

Nowhere is this folly more clear than in the United States, with its digital millennium copyright act. The U.S. entertainment industry has used legislation in courts to lock down content and criminalize consumers. The result has been a scorched earth policy waged by the recording industry of America against its own consumers. After more than 35,000 lawsuits against kids, single moms, and even dead people, the digital genie has not been put back in the bottle. The market has simply moved on.

Does this mean that digital technology has trumped the traditional right of creators to be compensated? Certainly not. New markets and new models are emerging. The difficulty is to find the best way to update copyright to meet these challenges. We have a unique opportunity to develop legislation that looks forward rather than back. That is why it was unfortunate to hear the Minister of Canadian Heritage denounce citizens' legitimate questions about the bill as digital extremism.

If copyright reform is to succeed, the government must move beyond the rhetoric of a self-defeating culture war. The choice is really about whether we support regressive or progressive copyright. Regressive copyright tries to limit, control, or punish users of creative works. Regressive copyright is self-defeating, because the public will ultimately find ways to access these works.

Progressive copyright, on the other hand, is based on two clear principles: remuneration and access. The digital age has shown us that consumers of artistic works want to be able to access these works. The Internet is not a threat; it is an amazing distribution format. As legislators, artists, and technological innovators, we need to find the monetizing streams in this new distributing culture.

This balanced approach represents the mainstream of Canadian copyright opinion. I refer the House to the judgment in the case of Théberge v. Gallerie d'Art du Petit Champlain inc. The Supreme Court stated that copyright's purpose was to strike a balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works of art and intellect, and obtaining a just reward for the creator.

There is a public interest in the access and dissemination of works and a public interest in obtaining a just reward for the creator.

The New Democratic Party's position on copyright is based on the principles of compensation and access. Artists need to be paid for their work, and consumers should be able to access these works with a minimum of restrictions.

The New Democrat position is that we support collective licensing and fair access to educational materials. For example, under the bill, digital lessons for long-distance learning must be destroyed within 30 days of the completion of a course. This would treat students in digital learning environments as second-class citizens and would undermine new learning opportunities.

Specifically, under Bill C-32, students who take long-distance courses would be forced to destroy their class notes after 30 days, and teachers would be forced to destroy their on-line class plans after every semester. This is the digital equivalent of telling universities to burn their textbooks at the end of every session.

What kind of government would force students engaged in digital learning to burn their class notes? No writer gets compensated and no student benefits. This provision shows just how badly out of whack the government is when it comes to understanding the importance of digital education.

In my great riding of Sudbury, we have three fantastic post-secondary institutions: Laurentian University, Cambrian College, and Collège Boréal. All three of these post-secondary institutions offer distance education and distance learning. We want to ensure that this continues, because it is a great way for students in the vastness of northern Ontario to get the education they need.

All this is particularly troubling for me as an MP from northern Ontario. Our country contains many remote areas, and we should be encouraging distance and online education, since course offerings of this type are often the only way for Canada's rural residents to gain access to quality higher education.

We should not be discouraging these types of educational regimes with unduly burdensome regulations prescribing how long a digital lesson can be held.

It is therefore my hope that all parties will be able to reconcile their differences so that we can provide Canadian artists, performers, writers, and the cultural community as a whole with the intellectual property rights protection they deserve, while ensuring that the new regulatory regime respects the changing nature of individual consumption in the 21st century.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 13th, 2010 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Timmins—James Bay for his great speech today. I learned something about this issue and he presented it very well. I am glad the NDP has a critic for digital and copyright issues. He has been doing great work.

I am also pleased to support his private member's bill, Bill C-499, extending the private copying levy to music players, because it is a technical adjustment that makes great sense and honours a very Canadian solution to the whole question of how we fairly remunerate artists for the work they do. It is one that has been tried and tested and has proven itself to be true to the principle of making sure artists are paid for their creations.

There have been, as he points out, some very disingenuous attempts to question the direction the committee is proposing and he is proposing in his private member's legislation. The scaremongering about the cost of this is one thing the Conservatives have done, completely misrepresenting what is actually proposed and what would be implemented.

Also, there has been a failure to understand the difference between a levy, which is completed dedicated to a specific purpose, in this case supporting the incomes of artists, and a tax that goes into the general revenue of the government. In the earlier part of the debate, Conservative members constantly came back to that issue and misunderstood the difference.

I wonder if the member might comment a little more about how fans perceive this, fans who appreciate the work of artists and frequently listen to it. How do they perceive the idea of finding a mechanism to ensure that the people who they appreciate by listening to their music are fairly remunerated for the work they have done in creating that music?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 13th, 2010 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very proud tonight to rise in the House as the spokesperson for the New Democratic Party on digital issues, as the spokesperson on issues of culture, and as the representative of the great and massive riding of Timmins--James Bay.

The concurrence motion brought before us tonight is a motion that was adopted by the heritage committee. I have been on the heritage committee for six years. This committee works very well together generally. Bloc members worked with New Democrats and Liberals and the Conservative chair of our committee. We felt that this issue needed to be brought forward to the House to bring awareness to the situation. The motion is very similar to my Bill C-499, which I brought forward in the House two weeks ago. At that time I also brought forward Motion No. 506.

In some ways we are talking about a technical change to the Copyright Act. Some folks might question how much of the minutia of the Copyright Act needs to be discussed. This concurrence motion and my bill would bring forward a discussion about a principle, and that is what I am going to speak to tonight.

Basically, we are discussing the existence of the Canadian private copying levy, which has existed in Canada for a number of years. My Bill C-499 would update the Copyright Act to ensure that this great Canadian success story continues on.

We started to see the changing dynamics of the cultural scene. People had cassettes and were starting to make copies of music for themselves and for their friends. Artists were questioning where the copyright was in this. Copyright refers to the right to make copies. They were questioning who was allowed to make copies.

One hundred years ago it was a very simple thing to make a copy with a printing press. It was the same when records were made. I made a number of albums back in my younger days and to make the lacquer of a record is not an easy thing to do. It was an expensive investment, so controlling copies was very simple. Then technology changed and everyone could make copies. The whole question of where to go with copyright arose.

Canada came up with a compromise at that time. People knew that copying was going on. As a former professional musician, I would say that some of that copying was good because musicians certainly wanted other people to hear their music. Their fans wanted to hear their music. People made cassettes. The question was raised: How were artists going to be remunerated? The private copying levy came into being.

For every cassette that was bought, 5¢, 10¢ or 15¢ was put into a fund and that fund paid the artists for the copies that were being made of their work. When cassettes went the way of the dinosaur and we moved into burnable CDs the levy was extended. A problem came up with the technical gap. People are no longer making burnable CDs. Now everything is on the iPod and it can hold anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 songs.

Supporters of the levy and the artists fully expected the principle of the levy to be continued. This principle was supported by the Liberal government when in power and has been supported by two administrations of the Conservative government. It was felt that this was a fair and reasonable response. However, the Federal Court said the Copyright Act did not specifically identify music players, and we had to have a technical change to the act.

Today's motion for concurrence makes the House aware of the need to update the levy to take into account the technological changes. My Bill C-499 addresses the need to update the levy so that it applies to the iPod so that artists could continue to get paid.

I also brought in at the same time Motion No. 506, which proposes another technical change to the Copyright Act. My motion addresses the ability of students and researchers to access materials in their classroom, and to update the law and make it very clear.

The Copyright Act is so burdensome in some ways because every time there is a new technological change a fight breaks out, and it creates some problems. For example, under the Copyright Act it actually says that it is legal to take an easel and a marker in a classroom and write a quote. That is a very fastidious approach to copyright, so the motion was to say we need, as technological change happens faster and faster, to be able to adapt to the realities and how people are using copyrighted materials so that people have access.

This is the issue we are here to talk about. It is not so much the technological changes, but the principle that if we are to have copyright in the 21st century, it has to maintain the traditional balance of copyright. Copyright has existed since the 1700s. It has been identified in Parliament after Parliament, in the United States, in Canada and in Europe, as a principle that the state accepts that authors have a certain control of their work, but at the same time, there is a public good to this work.

What good is the work if it is kept in a drawer and we cannot access it? The public good has to be allowed to have access to that work. That was the principle on which copyright was founded. We have seen numerous technological changes since the 1700s, but we are in a brand new environment in terms of the speed at which copying is taking place.

The other fundamental change that has happened since the mid-1990s is that, I would argue, almost everyone is in some way involved in copyright because students are copying materials, people are downloading songs, people are making their own projects, things that they technologically would not have been able to do.

We have two solutions to this dilemma. We can either continue to find ways to compensate artists and allow access, or we can try to shut it down, litigate and lock down. My Conservatives friends live in a nuance-free zone. They tend to be tough on crime or fight the tax, so they have been in a bit of a schizophrenic, unsure position on where they stand with copyright.

For example, I was rather surprised when we talked about the levy and the fact that two Conservative administrations had supported the levy, which has been a long-standing principle, to see the Minister of Canadian Heritage denounce it as a job killer, one of those socialist schemes, a tax, and that the Conservatives would fight this tax.

He said that this was a real threat. Then he said that they would fight this tax every single step of the way. If one has to say everything one knows about copyright in 140 characters or less, one could say this levy is a real threat, but I was somewhat flabbergasted that a levy, that a principle that has existed and his government supported for two terms, is such a threat that it had to be fought.

There is an attempt to dumb down discussions in Canadian political life, and my colleagues in the Conservative Party have been masters at dumbing everything down. The Conservatives get down on tough on crime things, they send out their ten percenters and they denounce people. I was wondering, how will this attack on the killer tax play out with Joe Average? Here is the National Post response to the Conservative line on the copyright levy. It said, “The government's nonsensical 'Boo! Hiss! No new taxes!' response...is just dumb”.

That is the National Post, a newspaper that does not tend to give the NDP too much of an easy ride on any given day. This is interesting from the Edmonton Journal. It said:

While this mild tweaking of an existing statute seems like a perfectly reasonable compromise, to hear the [Conservative] government tell it, it's the Boston Tea Party circa 2010. [The] Industry Minister, misrepresenting its contents, denounced the bill as "totally nonsensical".

What the Edmonton Journal was referring to was that the Conservatives misrepresented what is involved with the iPod levy. They immediately started throwing numbers around, saying that this is $75 on everything we buy, every computer we buy, every phone we buy. The bill is very clear. It is not that and they would know from meeting with the private copying levy that the last time the levy came before the Federal Court, there was talk about a levy of $2 to $5 to maybe $10 on very large items. That is a fairly reasonable compromise to most Canadians.

It was interesting that the Edmonton Journal pointed out that the industry minister, rather than responding to a levy that the Conservatives already supported, misrepresented it.

However, the heritage minister is singled out as well. The heritage minister, who we might think would defend creators, also distorted the levy. Railing oddly, talking as if it included the levy on BlackBerrys, iPhones and laptops, which it does not and railing “that consumers deserve lower, not higher taxes.

The Edmonton Journal, in the great city of Edmonton, in the beautiful province of Alberta, said, “This is fair and balanced, worthy of support. It continued:

The Tories are clearly playing pandering politics; let's hope the other opposition parties -- and independently-minded Conservatives -- sign on to a thoughtful compromise that upholds basic Canadian values of straight dealing.

That is the larger picture. I am encouraging my colleagues in the Conservative Party not to always pander down to the most dumbed-down response, “It is a killer tax and we are going to fight it”. I am giving them the chance to remember that this is a levy that they have supported.

Interestingly, the heritage minister came before our committee. The Liberals asked him if a fee was a tax because they were trying to get at what is a levy and what is a tax? The heritage minister asked if they were talking about the iPod tax, and they asked again if a fee was a tax?

The minister said that it depends on its purpose and it depends on how it is used, and it depends on who they were talking to. He said, for example, that if people are paying a fee for an ongoing service, like air security charges, which the government has downloaded, that it might not be, but I think people might disagree. He said that if it is dedicated in an envelope and it is transparent for that envelope, it may not be seen that way, as a tax.

That is what the levy is. The levy is transparent, dedicated money. It does not come to the government. The government never touches this money. It goes to artists. Our minister of heritage is maybe feeling a little uncomfortable about having gone out so far on a tax.

We have to talk about where we are going and we have to have an adult conversation about copyright because there are really only two solutions. There is a way that we compensate artists or we start to litigate, and we start to go after the consumers and the users. That approach will not work. We only have to look at the United States where it is suing single mothers, high school students, and an 83-year-old lady in an old folks home for supposedly downloading songs. That is not a coherent cultural policy and it is not a defensible policy.

We see the attack on consumers that the Conservatives railed in the last Bill C-61. They deliberately blurred the distinction between counterfeit and personal use. If people broke the digital lock on their iPhone because they did not like the package they had and wanted to go somewhere else, well they were technically criminals. Or, if they had bought a CD and could not back it up to their iPod and they wanted to break that digital lock, the Conservatives treated them, the average consumers back home, the same as they would treat an international counterfeiting ring.

That is bizarre. That is an attack not just on consumers but it is an attack on artists because artists want to work with their fans. Knowing the Canadian music scene as well as I do, there is a special relationship between artists and fans in Canada because we are small markets and we have to support our artists.

We need to have this discussion about how we are going to compensate because I believe and our party, the New Democratic Party, believes that the Internet has created the opportunity for probably one of the most, if not the most, exciting democratic grassroots cultural exchange that has ever been imagined.

People are able to engage each other. People are sharing ideas. People are actively engaged. There are two threats to what exists on the Internet right now. The first threat is the corporate threat, the lobbyists who do not like citizens deciding what they want to watch and how they want to watch it and what kind of content. That is the approach that we see now with the secret ACTA negotiations that this Conservative government is engaged in.

Now under the ACTA negotiations, the government would make the ISP, the cable provider back home, liable for what consumers download, and the ISP could be sued. What do members think that would do for innovation in this country?

It would shut it down immediately because the cable guy would be too afraid to let people mess around if he was not sure. They would not even need the threat of copyright action. They could shut someone down. This is the three-strikes-and-you-are-out provision.

The Conservatives have not told the consumers back home and all the little people they claim to support that the negotiations that are going on internationally would create provisions that would make it possible for three violations of copyright. Maybe our son or nephew has sent a song for us to listen to. That could be a violation of copyright. Three times and we would be denied access to the Internet, period, without going to court, without going to trial. I think this would be very invasive.

We see this approach and, again, we see the approach of the Recording Industry Association of America that is launching millions of dollars of lawsuits against individuals. That is not a reasonable response.

This is the corporate threat to the Internet, the attempt to lock down, to deny access, to make digital lock sacrosanct. That is a serious threat to the development of the cultural commons that is being created.

However I would say there is another threat, and I think this is a threat that civil society needs to look at. We talk about digital citizens and the rights of the digital citizen, but if citizens do not take the responsibility as a citizen, that is as much a threat to the development of a cultural commons.

If citizens believe, if individuals believe, that the great works that are created, the music, the books, the films that are being created by our wonderful creators, can be just taken anytime we want without anybody ever getting paid, that is a destruction of our cultural heritage.

I have met many of these digital libertarians and many of them I like and I get along with very well, but I would argue that there is nothing countercultural about taking the work that artists create. I have had people say to me that artists are living in a dead business model; they should develop a new business model.

There is nothing new in the business model of having to sell T-shirts to pay for the gas to get to one's next show. Artists have been doing that for years. There is nothing new in the business model of having to hawk buttons, bumper stickers and whatever else. Artists do this anyway, because artists barely make a living at the best of times. However artists put a lot of effort into that music and they put an investment of their future into it.

We can talk to many artists. They do not want to sue their fans. They do not want a war with their fans. They are just saying, “Find a way that we can share our music and we can be compensated”.

This past winter the great U.K. rocker Billy Bragg came here to Parliament Hill. Billy Bragg was speaking for the musicians of England and many musicians all over the world and he said, “When music is played, artists should get paid”. It is a fundamental principle.

Billy Bragg was saying he did not support the corporate attack on fans. He did not support the locking down of his music. He wanted people to be able to share his music and to hear it, but that he wanted to be able to continue doing what he has done so well and that it has to have a remuneration factor to it.

The alternatives we are looking at tonight are these. One model is whether we continue to go down the road with the Conservative government that has no plan, no vision for a true digital economy, who are engaged in secret ACTA negotiations that would penalize and criminalize average citizens, that would lock down content and make it impossible for researchers, for students, music fans to be able to access works without having to worry whether they need to see a lawyer. The other progressive model is to say we know there is sharing going on, we know there is all kinds of trading, and some of this is good because it is creating new business ideas out there and we want to support the new business models that are coming. However, we want to ensure artists are compensated. That is a fair and reasonable solution.

It is not an enormous amount of money when we divide up how many songs are being put on iPods. It is a fairly reasonable amount.

We have an opportunity in the House to say that, as various members, we can agree to some fundamental principles. One of those principles is that artists have a right to be remunerated for their works.

I will say in closing I was speaking with Cory Doctorow, who is another great digital activist. He was talking about the levy. He said that what Parliament needs to do is to find a way to end the cold war between the music industry, the corporate lobbyists, the musicians and the fans, because we all benefit from great music and we all benefit from building the relationship between our artists and the consumers.

Copyright ActRoutine Proceedings

March 16th, 2010 / 10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-499, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (audio recording devices).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to submit a private member's bill that would update the Copyright Act. It would extend the private copying levy that already exists to the next generation of devices that consumers are using for the copying of sound recordings for personal use.

The private copying levy is a long-standing Canadian tradition that works because it has compensated artists for some of the enormous amount of copying that has taken place. At the same time, updating the act would provide legal certainty for fans who are using iPod players to copy music and shows.

This levy is a compromise that works, because in a world of endless downloading, we need to provide a monetizing scheme for artists. As well, we have to address the fact that there are two dead-end roads on this copyright debate. The first dead end is the belief that digital locks, predatory lawsuits and zero tolerance on access can somehow push consumers back in time, but the other dead end is the belief that our great film, music and art can be looted at will.

If we are going to go down the right road, we have to get serious about securing a monetizing scheme for creators. Canada has a chance to strike this right balance. First, artists have a right to get paid, which is why I am bringing forward the private copying levy; second, consumers, educators and researchers have a right to access these works, which is why I am also bringing forward a motion on defining fair use for educators.

The New Democratic Party will continue to work to ensure that our copyright laws are updated to protect artists, while preserving access to these amazing works.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)