Evidence of meeting #9 for Bill C-11 (41st Parliament, 1st Session) in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was copyright.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ferne Downey  National President, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, Recording Artists' Collecting Society
  • Warren Sheffer  Lawyer, Hebb & Sheffer, Recording Artists' Collecting Society
  • Martha Rans  Legal Director, Artists' Legal Outreach
  • Michael Eisen  Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft Canada Co.
  • Jesse Feder  Director, International Trade and Intellectual Property, Business Software Alliance

March 7th, 2012 / 3:30 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the ninth meeting of the Legislative Committee on Bill C-11.

Today is going to be an interesting meeting. Bells are expected in a few minutes, so we'll need to have a quick interlude while we go to vote and then come back.

The clerk has briefed you all that we've changed the opening statements to five minutes. If you haven't had that opportunity I will give you a little bit of leeway, but we are trying to save time so that members can ask more questions to get the answers we are trying to look for with this committee.

We have four witnesses today. From the Recording Artists' Collecting Society, we have Ferne Downey and Warren Sheffer. From Artists' Legal Outreach, we have Martha Rans. From Microsoft Canada, we have Michael Eisen. From Business Software Alliance, we have Jesse Feder.

Thank you for being here today.

I will stop speaking and get right to opening remarks. We will start with the Recording Artists' Collecting Society.

3:30 p.m.

Ferne Downey National President, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, Recording Artists' Collecting Society

Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members.

My name is Ferne Downey. I'm a professional actor, and the president of ACTRA and the Recording Artists' Collecting Society, also known as RACS. With me is Warren Sheffer, a lawyer with Hebb and Sheffer, who specializes in copyright law.

Created in 1997, RACS is a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to distribute equitable remuneration and private copying moneys under the Copyright Act. We represent more than 4,000 Canadian recording artists and several thousand more international artists through our reciprocal agreements with collectives around the whole world.

For thousands of Canadians, making music and other creative pursuits isn't a hobby; it's a job. It's how we cover our bills, feed our families, and pay our taxes. Professional recording artists are entrepreneurs who contribute to Canada's $85 billion cultural industry.

Unlike most Canadians, professional artists don't live on one paycheque from a single employer. Rather, we rely on small cheques from many streams of revenue, which add up to allow us to pay the rent or live or invest in our new projects. Don't forget that each new recording project means creating jobs—booking studio space, or hiring an engineer, session musicians, and even a designer to create your digital album art. That's why the private copying levy has been so vital.

For nearly 15 years, our copyright laws recognized that copies have value. Millions of dollars have gone to creators to compensate them when private copies have been made of their work. Unfortunately, Bill C-11 doesn't extend the levy to the new technology being used to copy music. As a result, there will just be less money flowing to these artists, who already struggle to piece together the income to create the music we love.

Now, we've heard you. We know the government's position on this and we're not going to harp on it, but we do need you to understand that letting the levy wither away means lost revenue for these small business people. In a very real sense, the Copyright Act establishes a business model for professional artists and allows them to create a market. We know that in many cases, recording artists' greatest assets are works they have recorded in the past. They can make a living if that intellectual property is protected. Good copyright legislation must therefore do more than punish those who violate the law, it must protect the right of those who own the copyright to control and license their work.

Unfortunately, in many respects, Bill C-11 does not meet this test. There are just too many new exceptions. We at RACS support the 20 amendments put forward by the Canadian Conference of the Arts on behalf of 68 cultural organizations. Today we'd like to speak briefly to a couple of these, which are of particular interest to the recording artists we represent.

First is the user-generated content exception. One of the best things about Bill C-11 is that it finally puts the 1996 WIPO Internet treaties into Canadian law, giving performers moral rights in their oral performances and a “making available” right. However, a few pages later, moral rights are then threatened by the UGC provision that allows people to mash up creative works at whim. We understand the government's intent, but this YouTube or mash-up exception is too permissive and threatens to trample on creators' economic and moral rights. By adopting the UGC exception, you will take away the opportunity for Canadian artists and makers, such as studios and record labels, to license their products.

In other countries, collectives are entering into licence agreements with businesses like YouTube. Canadian creators need to have the same right to control and license our work. We urge you to either remove the UGC provision from Bill C-11 or amend the bill to protect creators' moral and economic rights.

Second are statutory damages. Statutory damages are an important tool in deterring copyright infringement. We believe that damages should be proportionate to the infringement, and so far in Canada they have been. Therefore, we don't see any reason to create a new distinction between commercial and non-commercial infringement. Drawing this distinction reinforces the message that it is okay for me not to pay for music or movies, as long as I'm not selling my illegal copies to anyone else.

When you combine the drastic reduction in statutory damages with the legal costs, it also sends a clear message to creators that they might as well not pursue remedies for these infringements in court.

Bill C-11 also gives illegal file-sharing sites a licence to keep enabling illegal activity by exempting them from statutory damages. Now we don't think this was intended, and we urge you to fix that technical error.

I'll turn to Warren, who will talk very briefly about a third vital area.

3:35 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Mr. Sheffer, we are at five minutes, so if you could give us a one-minute summary, it would be much appreciated. I'm sorry to do this to you.

Thank you.

3:35 p.m.

Warren Sheffer Lawyer, Hebb & Sheffer, Recording Artists' Collecting Society

That's fine. I'll be very quick.

The third amendment RACS is seeking has to do with bringing interpretive scope to the numerous exceptions that are proposed by the bill. We are specifically proposing that the language of the Berne three-step test be added into part III of the act as an interpretive provision.

Making such a technical amendment won't change the substance of the exceptions proposed by the bill. It also won't detract from the government's desire to have a made-in-Canada piece of legislation. What it will do is make clear that Canadian courts are to restrict their interpretation of exceptions to certain special cases that do not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work or other subject matter, and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author, performer, or maker.

Many of our trading partners have this interpretive language in their own copyright legislation. It provides users and creators with greater clarity according to an internationally accepted benchmark. By including the Berne three-step test as an interpretive provision in the Copyright Act, we'll move closer to harmonizing our copyright laws with many of our trading partners', while avoiding unintended damage to creators.

To quote the preamble of the bill:

...copyright protection is enhanced when countries adopt coordinated approaches, based on internationally recognized norms....

3:35 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Mr. Sheffer, again, I do apologize that we have to do this. I want to try to give everyone the opportunity to present. Hopefully you can get more of that information in during the questioning.

3:35 p.m.

Lawyer, Hebb & Sheffer, Recording Artists' Collecting Society

Warren Sheffer

Okay, thank you.

3:35 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Now we'll go to you, Ms. Rans.

3:35 p.m.

Martha Rans Legal Director, Artists' Legal Outreach

Thank you.

My name is Martha Rans. I'm the legal director of the Artists' Legal Outreach. I've been a lawyer for 18 years, advising artists in all disciplines.

The ALO provides advice and information to thousands of B.C. creators every other week in the province. As a copyright educator, I lecture before hundreds of students of art and design, who are the future of the creative sector in this country.

Creativity flourishes irrespective of the law. It always has and always will. However, it does not exist in isolation from where artists work, present, speak, perform, build, and think. It requires some level of support. For many artists, copyright has supplanted arts funding as the mechanism through which we in society recognize and implicitly value their creativity.

I'm not here to talk about products and innovation, information and data, or a religion, for that matter. I'm not a legislative expert, an academic, or part of an industry. I'm here to share with you some of the experiences I've had with artists—whether they're in Temiskaming or Vancouver—around copyright.

Bill C-11 as it stands is too complicated for most digital producers to be able to interpret, and the fear of litigation harms individual artists and the cultural sectors they too comprise. This is particularly the case where we have limited access to legal advice, education, and information. This doesn't mean that we need more lawyers. It means that we need a framework built on solid principles and clear policy that are well understood by the public and creator alike, and that will enable artists to negotiate for themselves.

Bill C-11 as currently drafted fails to provide a copyright framework that is clear, predictable, or fair. The user-generated content provision is an example of this.

Here, you're proposing to legislate in an area where I would suggest it's quite unnecessary. Our sons and daughters will continue to create and upload videos of themselves dancing to Justin Bieber, whether we like it or not and whether or not there's a law. That has always been the case.

As a result in part of YouTube's algorithms intended to automate to identify potential third-party content, other sites have emerged without those algorithms—Vimeo, Blip, and others—which suggests to me that an exception is not required to enable any of us to find outlets for our self-made creations, and we don't need a law to do that.

Josh Hite, a Vancouver media artist, made a video called Chug Chug Chug, based on clips he found on YouTube. The exception as drafted makes it no easier for him to show it, even at a festival. Even a non-profit festival in Brazil has turned him down.

We are, however, seeing best practices emerge that respect original creators and do not penalize users. It seems to me to be worthwhile to avoid unnecessary legislative intervention that could slow the process. Getty Images recently announced a mishmash competition. It seems to me that copyright holders like Getty have adapted to the new digital landscape.

A new copyright regime that enables artists to create transformative works is what we need, one that respects how art is actually made. At the Vancouver Art Gallery right now, Sonny Assu and Jackson 2bears have work in their show that arguably infringes copyright, and Bill C-11 does absolutely nothing to change that fact.

To the extent that amending fair dealing could enable an acceptance of transformative use, then perhaps we could make use of those amendments. I'm not convinced, however, in light of the fact that this will undoubtedly foretell a significant amount of litigation.

Adding education to fair dealing will not solve the funding crisis that educational institutions and other publicly funded institutions such as libraries, museums, and galleries have. The result of the opting out of the AC tariff by various post-secondary institutions in 2011 is evidence of that. I doubt very much that adding education to fair dealing—though I personally support doing so on philosophical grounds—will change that. There's a continuing widespread misperception about the impact of that change.

In the absence of statutory licence provisions that mandate specific uses that will enable our copyright collectives and will address digital reproduction rights to artists, I don't see this taking us further forward. There are now communities of folks seeking to make it possible for widespread sharing of resources across many platforms in legislative environments—

3:40 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Unfortunately, I have to interrupt you. You still are under time, but we have bells. That's what the flashing means. The flashing lights mean that many of the MPs here—

3:40 p.m.

Legal Director, Artists' Legal Outreach

Martha Rans

You mean it isn't that you agree with me...?

3:40 p.m.


Oh, oh!

3:40 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Fantastic, all in favour?

Unfortunately, we'll now have to suspend to go to vote. I am expecting that we will continue this meeting after the votes. It looks like the next round of voting will be some time between 5:30 and 6:00 when there will be bells. I would expect everyone to come back, and we will do as much as we can in terms of getting the presentations and questioning in until the next round of bells.

Until then, we are suspended.

5:20 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Again, our apologies for the delay with the votes. I'd like to welcome back the members and the witnesses.

We will move right to the presentations because possibly there are going to be more bells coming.

I'm going to start with Microsoft, for 10 minutes.

You will be able to start afterwards.

5:20 p.m.

Michael Eisen Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft Canada Co.

Thank you.

Good evening.

In my role as Microsoft Canada's chief legal officer, I'm committed to working with government and other interested parties to help fashion the best legal and policy frameworks possible to build a productive, healthy, and safe Canada.

It goes without saying that copyright reform in Canada has been long in the making. Bill C-11 is the fourth attempt to amend the Copyright Act since 2005.

It also goes without saying that copyright law reform is critical to bringing Canada's laws into the 21st century. In addition to implementing the rights and protections of the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties, we need a new framework that allows businesses to compete and Canadians to realize their potential.

Bill C-11 provides this framework. In Microsoft's view, it will provide appropriate protections to artists, creators, and other innovators. It will facilitate the emergence of new products, services, and distribution models, and it will promote the interests of educators and consumers. In short, the bill will modernize Canadian copyright law in a fair manner that deters those who would disregard the rights of creators, while striking a careful balance with the interests of users.

As the copyright reform process has demonstrated, balancing the rights of creators with the interests of users is a difficult exercise. I suspect that almost all stakeholders, including Microsoft, could identify elements of Bill C-11 that they do not like.

However, the time has come to move forward. As a result, in the interests of seeing copyright reform in Canada come to fruition, I will limit my detailed comments to the TPM provisions and a small number of technical fixes necessary, I believe, to achieve the legislative intent behind the bill.

Microsoft is of the view that Bill C-11's approach to technical protection measures—that is, a general rule against circumvention of access controls, subject to exceptions—is appropriate.

To begin with, it is most important to recognize that Bill C-11 does not prohibit circumvention of copy controls. Once a consumer lawfully obtains a copy, subject to any limitations imposed by contract, the consumer is entitled to do anything that is permitted by the fair dealing provisions or another exception.

Rather, the prohibition on access controls ensures that people who want to take advantage of a fair dealing exception lawfully acquire, through purchase or licence, a copy of the work. This ensures some measure of compensation for creators in much the same way the fair dealing provisions operate today in respect of non-digital works.

Second, the multiple exceptions to the general rule against circumvention of access controls reflect a careful balancing between the rights of creators and the interests of users. Trying to accommodate all potential legitimate uses in the legislation would create large loopholes for pirates and other bad actors to avoid liability. The same concern about loopholes justifies creating a relatively strict ban on devices. To allow trafficking in circumvention devices would make it too easy for bad actors to create and sell devices that are used for illegitimate purposes.

Third, if a legitimate concern about TPM overreach arises at some time in the future, the broad regulation-making authority found in Bill C-11 will enable the government to create new exceptions to the general rules against circumvention of access controls and use of circumvention devices.

The exception process provides government with flexibility to address, among other things, the use of TPMs to improperly restrict competition in the aftermarket sector, or to adversely affect fair dealings for news reporting, commentary, parody, teaching, or research.

The government also retains the power by regulation to require owners of copyright-protected work to make their work accessible to people who are entitled to the benefit of an exception. In short, the TPM provisions ensure that there will be an appropriate balance between the needs of creators and users, both now and in the future, if unintended consequences are identified or as new technologies emerge.

Moving now to technical fixes, Microsoft's view is that Bill C-11 requires limited revisions. In particular, the wording of the new “exceptions to infringement” provisions should be revised to avoid what we expect are potential unintended consequences. Most significantly, the exceptions are not bound by a requirement that the dealing with the work be fair.

The exceptions of most concern to Microsoft are interoperability of computer programs, proposed section 30.61; encryption research, proposed section 30.62; and security, proposed section 30.63. In each case, a simple technical fix is available.

Specifically, the exceptions could be made subject to a requirement that the applicable activity be fair. The factors to be used to assess what is fair would be the same factors identified by the Supreme Court of Canada in the CCH decision in connection with fair dealing: the purpose of the dealing, the character of the dealing, the amount of the dealing, alternatives to the dealing, the nature of the work, and the effect of the dealing on the work.

Finally, I would like to conclude by thanking the committee for providing Microsoft with an opportunity to make these remarks.

I look forward to any questions, if we have that opportunity.

5:25 p.m.


The Chair Glenn Thibeault

Thank you, sir.

Now we go to Mr. Feder. The floor is yours for 10 minutes.