Evidence of meeting #112 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was creators.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Luc Fortin  President, Guilde des musiciens et des musiciennes du Québec
Margaret McGuffin  Executive Director, Canadian Music Publishers Association
Vince Degiorgio  Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Music Publishers Association
Jérôme Payette  Executive Director, Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale
Marie-Josée Dupré  Executive Director, Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec
Éric Lefebvre  Secretary-Treasurer, Guilde des musiciens et des musiciennes du Québec

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Music Publishers Association

Margaret McGuffin

I think they're interrelated, but we are behind all of our major trading partners except Japan, and Japan is moving to harmonize with the other trading partners.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

I'll ask this to the other witnesses.

If there was a single legislative change or a single most important legislative ask in terms of the act, what would it be for each of you?

9:30 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Music Publishers Association

Vince Degiorgio

I believe on our end it's also term extension, only because a country like Mexico is at 100 years and we are still at 50.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

It's life plus 50, right?

9:30 a.m.

Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Music Publishers Association

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec

Marie-Josée Dupré

Term extension is definitely one of the major issues. As Margaret mentioned, in dealings with our international partners, our creators are at a disadvantage compared to those countries, with those foreign composers and authors. That would be one of the main issues.

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale

Jérôme Payette

I would say term extension and private copying.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Private copying means what?

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale

Jérôme Payette

I mean a levy on devices for reproduction.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

That's what someone called an iPod tax or something like that, right?

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale

Jérôme Payette

It's not a tax but a levy.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

You're not going to get very far trying to persuade me that levies aren't taxes. I can tell you that, to consumers, they're the same thing.

For our folks on the....

9:30 a.m.

President, Guilde des musiciens et des musiciennes du Québec

Luc Fortin

We would pick up on the last two points. In fact, we are also talking about revising section 31.1 of the Copyright Act and making Internet service providers accountable by eliminating the exemption they benefit from.

I also come back to the royalties for private copying, which must be extended to all media, because the legislation must be technologically neutral. There is no reason for a medium to be exempted from compensating rights holders, no reason at all. It's not a tax, it's a payment for copyright, and they are not the same.

9:30 a.m.

Voices

Ah, ah!

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

We now move to Mr. Nantel; he has seven minutes.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Now I am really grumpy this morning.

Once again, we have been witness to the incredible cynicism of the Conservatives who are comparing royalties to taxes. They invented the “Netflix tax” and it ended up as harassment. I am in exactly the same place as the people here representing creators, and who feel that they are talking to a brick wall.

I appreciate your comments about what can be done, your suggestion is to go through the copyright board, and what do you want them to do? They deal with the nitty-gritty, and that is what is needed.

That said, in 2012, the practical side of the Conservatives meant that, when the review was done in 2012, specific committees were formed to look after it, Honestly, personally, I am starting to see things clearly today.

Mrs. Dupré tells us that Mr. Bussières and Mr. Lapointe, two singer-songwriter-composers, came to relate their financial losses to the new model of managing music, to the great benefit of consumers. What a great thing that is, dear Lord! Is that all there is to life, paying as little as possible, especially on the backs of musicians and composers? As I see it, we pay for our sliced bread and we also pay for electricity. Heaven knows, in Ontario, we pay enough for that.

So, in 2012, the Conservatives used a “practical” approach to revise copyright using specific committees. There were specific advisers, I remember that each party had special advisers. In addition to our own assistants, we had experts. At the moment, I see that the Liberals are no better. What they have done is divide the review of the Copyright Act into two parts, one of which is being studied by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. We have absolutely no idea about who is studying what.

Mr. Bussières went before that committee with Mr. Lapointe to talk about copyright and to indicate that they get nothing from what is being used on streaming platforms. How is it that our committee did not invite them? Don't think that I am jealous that they went before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. It is as if we want to make sure that we understand nothing. I have often said that, even for me, someone who knows the business well, revising copyright is as dry as dust, like having your mouth full of sand. On top of that, we have made sure that we understand nothing and have even less of a cohesive vision.

That explains my rant this morning: it all seems so astonishing to me, and I am sure that you are all going to leave here saying that we are not out of the woods.

Mr. Payette, you are right to talk about the CRTC announcement, which is a determining factor, and I invite all who are committed to the broadcasting of Canadian content to look at what is happening this morning and to watch the government's reaction to it. A key will be what the CRTC says today about the discoverability of our material, of our Canadian and Quebec content, on all platforms, and in all electronic disciplines.

So I would like to understand what you are alluding to. Mr. Payette, you mentioned the importance of what is gong to happen at the CRTC this morning. You brought up—

Sincerely, perhaps I will not do it today, but I am going to continue to question the process the government chose to examine the Copyright Act. I see today that they are dividing in order to conquer and that a study is being broken up so that no overview is possible. Clearly, Madam Chair, I am not looking at because I know your good faith. But I feel that some little, highly-placed Machiavellis have decided to speed the process up and to slash it into pieces so that no one understands any of it. There you go.

Mr. Payette, let me ask you if it is possible for you, whenever you can, to clearly indicate what you are alluding to when you talk about authors' royalties that should be supported and paid for by Internet service providers. I have no doubt of the good faith of each and every person here, even the Parliamentary secretaries. But actually, for everyone here, this is where we are. The government is going to decide what it wants, the committee will try to get out of it with no clear vision and I am convinced that three-quarters of the people here are drowning in content and information.

So I am going to ask you for one thing. I know that, next Tuesday, there is a major meeting of the Coalition pour la culture et les médias in order to react to the CRTC announcement. Talk it over amongst yourselves; let me invite you to send something like “Copyright for Dummies” to everyone in the government and everyone on this committee. Send us simple examples. Tell us which part of the act presents which problem, because previously, it was like this, and now it is like that.

I have asked the departments of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada to send us a list of the complex issues they want to resolve. We have been told that they are going to do that. I have received nothing yet; I am still waiting. But it is their job to do it, they have to send it to us. I asked them to look for solutions overseas, to see how things work in other countries. That seemed more complicated. If you talk to the officials that you are in regular contact with, insist that they help us to understand the issue because, at the moment, the government's strategy is to make sure that no one understands anything.

Mr. Payette and Mr. Fortin, do you want to tell us about the items that, in your opinion, are matters for litigation between Internet service providers and the rights of authors? By the way, Mr. Lefebvre, I hope that your boy is doing well.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

A two-minute answer, if you please.

9:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale

Jérôme Payette

I think that there are two ways of dealing with the issue of Internet service providers.

Internet service providers do extremely well from content that is protected by copyright. In my opinion, one way to require them to do their part is to have them pay a royalty. For example, there could be agreements with collective societies, including SOCAN. Those agreements would include royalties paid by Internet service providers. Because of the Copyright Act, it is possible to have Internet service providers contribute financially.

The other way of getting there is with CRTC regulations that would encourage them to pay into a fund designed to finance the creation of Canadian content. Under the Copyright Act, this would be for material that had already been broadcast, that had already been put out. This other option would be a way to create new content.

In my opinion, those two approaches would be ways to have Internet service providers make a contribution to our culture.

May 31st, 2018 / 9:40 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Thank you.

Mr. Fortin, I know that you were getting ready to reply, but I would like to say something first.

I asked you to send us solutions, with very concrete examples, and Mr. Van Loan asked the same thing. Among other things, I am referring to the brochure for Bill C-32. I know that the Coalition pour la culture et les medias has done something. I also know that anyone who consults the long, 34-page document always finds the first page a little disconcerting. That is what I am alluding to.

Say that we are five-year-olds who understand nothing. We would tell ourselves, we would understand, that it's great that music is so accessible, that it is super cool that music is so easy to access, that everyone can listen to it. And if the artists make no money, that’s life, that’s progress. So let’s feel free.

Go ahead, Mr. Fortin.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

You have 20 seconds left.

9:40 a.m.

President, Guilde des musiciens et des musiciennes du Québec

Luc Fortin

I will move aside for my colleague, Mr. Lefebvre.

9:40 a.m.

Éric Lefebvre Secretary-Treasurer, Guilde des musiciens et des musiciennes du Québec

I just want to point out that a study about online consumption of copyright-protected content has just been published. The study was conducted following a survey in November 2017. One figure in the study caught my attention. It seems that, in the three months preceding the survey, 32% of Internet users downloaded, read or consulted at least one musical file containing illegal content. That means that millions of files were consulted illegally.

Why is that the case? An exception in the Copyright Act protects Internet service providers. Normally, that would be a copyright infringement, called the right to authorize but which, because of the exception, does not exist. This level of protection must disappear from the Copyright Act in order to make Internet service providers accountable. They could then make a contribution in return for the benefits they derive from passing illegal content through their wiring, so to speak.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

I have to stop you there because the time is up.

Mr. Breton, the floor is yours.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Pierre Breton Liberal Shefford, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

My thanks to our experts for being here today.

We truly do learn something new every day, thanks to the people who testify before us. The goal of these meetings, in fact, is to hear witnesses from all over the country. Thank you for being here and for sharing with us your concerns, the issues you are dealing with, and your recommendations.

I especially do not want to ask you the same questions again or have the same information going around. We have heard a lot of information since the start of the meeting. I just have one question to ask, which should avoid any repetition.

Some areas are harder for the federal government to become involved with than others in the medium or long term. This is one of those areas. Tell us what the federal government can do in the short term to improve remuneration for artists, musicians and singers all across Canada.

Each witness has one minute to answer that single question.

Why don’t you start, Mr. Payette?

9:45 a.m.

Executive Director, Association des professionnels de l'édition musicale

Jérôme Payette

In the short term, the answer would be to lift the CRTC's exemption for new media. The CRTC could lift it itself, but, if it doesn't, the Governor in Council has the authority, under sections 7 and 8 of the Broadcasting Act, to issue directions to the CRTC to lift the exemption for new media.

For example, they could say that the regulations apply to companies, even if the latter aren't Canadian. If they have a considerable presence in Canada, that could be enough. Their presence could be defined according to the number of contracts and visits, to the value of payments collected in Canada and to whether they collect data on Canadians. That would be used to determine that they have a considerable presence in Canada. We could then ask them to implement the major objectives of Canada's broadcasting policy.

In the short term, this could be done very quickly, since an order giving a direction is more or less two pages long.