Evidence of meeting #140 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was rights.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jeremy de Beer  Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual
Marcel Boyer  Emeritus Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Université de Montréal, As an Individual
Mark Hayes  Partner, Hayes eLaw LLP, As an Individual
Howard Knopf  Counsel, Macera & Jarzyna, LLP, As an Individual
Dan Albas  Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, CPC
David de Burgh Graham  Laurentides—Labelle, Lib.
Matt Jeneroux  Edmonton Riverbend, CPC

5:20 p.m.

Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, CPC

Dan Albas

Thank you.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

I hate to be a grinch, but we do have to be out of here by 5:30.

Mr. Sheehan, you have five minutes.

Ms. Quach, you have two minutes.

Then we have to go.

November 28th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Sheehan Liberal Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thanks to our presenters.

Since the beginning of this study a while ago, there have been a number of proposals from Canadian creators, amendments if you will, that would directly benefit them. I wanted to get your comments on some of them that have been proposed to us. I'll start with the first one, the resale right on visual works of art that allows the creator to receive a percentage of every subsequent sale, so the painter if you will, and then it's sold and sold. Second is granting first ownership of cinematography works to directors and screenwriters as opposed to producers—I think someone touched on it briefly. Then there's a reversionary right that would bring the copyright of a work back to an artist after a set amount of time, regardless of any contracts to the contrary, and finally, granting journalists a remuneration right for the use of their works on digital platforms such as news aggregators. We heard from Facebook at our last session and they had some comments about it.

Would you endorse these kinds of ideas? Do you think they would benefit creators, as opposed to rights holders more generally? What could be any unintended consequences of these proposals?

There are four of them, and I only have five minutes, so maybe Jeremy, Mark and Howard, you each could take a shot at one of them.

5:20 p.m.

Partner, Hayes eLaw LLP, As an Individual

Mark Hayes

I talked about two of them in my presentation already: the reversion rights and the second one, the cinematographic works.

I don't really have much more to say on those unless you have specific questions. I think both those proposals don't make any sense.

5:20 p.m.

Counsel, Macera & Jarzyna, LLP, As an Individual

Howard Knopf

Bryan Adams, I believe, actually suggested moving the reversionary right back to 25 years after the contract was signed. He had Professor Daniel Gervais, formerly of the University of Ottawa—quite a brilliant guy, who is now at Vanderbilt—say that should be given serious consideration. As for the resale right, it's a rabbit hole that I don't think Canada should go down. It's great for the auction houses. Maybe in some ways it will complicate the art market a whole lot. The art market has flourished very well for thousands of years without it. I don't know why we need it now. Some countries have it and arguably it's ruining the art market in those jurisdictions.

The other things that you mentioned—I don't remember them all, but many of them are just opportunistic. More rights are not necessarily better. Chocolate is good for you. Wine is good for you. Maybe even vodka is good for you, but all of those things in excess can be very bad for you, and maybe even fatal.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Sheehan Liberal Sault Ste. Marie, ON

One of them was granting the journalists remuneration rights. It's come up a few times in different testimonies.

5:20 p.m.

Counsel, Macera & Jarzyna, LLP, As an Individual

Howard Knopf

Journalists should be well paid. They do very important work.

If somebody writes for the Toronto Star, they're getting paid a salary. Just because it shows up on the Internet doesn't mean they should get paid again.

5:20 p.m.

Prof. Jeremy de Beer

That's the article 13 issue, and the link tax and the upload filters. It's going to backfire if we do it. We should absolutely not do it. The other things are a tempest in a teapot. Do whatever you want. It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

The problem is a different order of magnitude than is the link tax issue. It's the same thing with site blocking. You've heard a lot about site blocking. I think it's a terrible idea to do it in the Copyright Act. The provisions already exist in the rules of civil procedure and they've been well used. People say it's hard to get a site-blocking injunction. It should be hard to get a site-blocking injunction. It's an impediment of free expression and commerce. Most importantly, if, say, you're a victim of revenge porn, you have to go through the usual processes so why should copyright owners be treated any better or differently? It already exists outside of it. Those are the two big ones that I think you have to really worry about.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Sheehan Liberal Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Talking about some of the newer technologies that have popped up in the last five years, there's been a lot of testimony about Spotify and how Spotify functions. A lot of the artists are pointing out that revenue in the music industry as a whole has exploded. All the data will show that because of things like Spotify that replace your BearShares and all those other illegal activities...but in the opinion of Canadian creators—and they have data to suggest this—it's not keeping up at the same rate.

Do you have any suggestions, through either copyright or other means or mechanisms, on how that might be resolved?

5:25 p.m.

Counsel, Macera & Jarzyna, LLP, As an Individual

Howard Knopf

The Copyright Board, as I said, should be more intrusive. They should force these collectives and parties to be more transparent about their internal operations and about how much money is actually getting through to the creators. They should not allow a collective or a corporation to operate with a Copyright Board monopoly if that outfit is not behaving fairly. The competition commissioner should get involved, which they've never done but they have the power to do. There are some giant, huge companies out there that are now, in hindsight, making Microsoft look like an angel, and that require anti-trust scrutiny.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Thank you.

Sorry. We are down to the wire. If you'd like to answer that question in writing, please send the answer to the clerk.

We have two minutes left.

Madam Quach, it's all yours.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My question is twofold. I would like to ask Mr. Boyer what he thinks about defending artists' rights, especially when it comes to copyright protection on the Internet.

It is difficult. There is a lot of uncertainty and costs if one wishes to have one's rights upheld as a copyright holder for the use of works on the Internet, and there are two reasons for this. The first, is that it is tricky for an artist to get paid. Two months ago, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage heard David Bussières, who composes, writes lyrics and sings for the group called Alfa Rococo. He explained that if a song is played 6,000 times on the radio, he will receive over $17,000 in royalties but if the same song is played 30,000 times on Spotify, he is paid a paltry $10 or so. What can we do to solve this problem?

Sometimes, artists' works find a way onto various platforms or are used elsewhere. How can we help our artists?

5:25 p.m.

Emeritus Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Université de Montréal, As an Individual

Marcel Boyer

I don't know how much time is left, but I will try to answer in 30 seconds.

Spotify and commercial radio are two completely different technologies, and the way they calculate royalties owed on music is very different.

One of the reasons why Canadian artists are so badly compensated for streaming is that the Copyright Board of Canada uses commercial radio and equivalent playing time to estimate listener numbers, and so on. As the method used for calculating royalties for commercial radio is not competitive, it doesn't meet the criteria for remuneration in a competitive market.

Obviously, all this has been transferred to streaming and has also hurt our lyricists, our composers and our artists.

I said that we should avoid the sequential calculation of royalties, whereby previous decisions inform current decisions. In the case of streaming, the Copyright Board of Canada did precisely what it shouldn't have, and lyricists, composers and artists are paying the price.

I won't say anymore because the chair is telling me to stop.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

I have to do so because another committee will start up very soon.

The meeting is adjourned.

If you have answers to questions that we didn't get through, please send them in to the clerk.

I want to thank you all for being here today. It was another great session.