Mr. Speaker, to the astonishment of the whip of the Liberal Party, the Bloc members still have some things to say about this bill, because it deals with culture.
As sovereignist Quebecers, we believe that culture plays an important role in the development of Quebec society. Even if the bill before us was introduced by the federal government, we still find it relevant. As the hon. member for Louis-Hébert reminded us, the time had come to follow up on the demands of the authors, creators, performers, all those who work on the cultural scene, the theatre people, the musicians, the writers.
It is extremely important for us, Quebecers, to have a legislation better suited to today's situation. This is also very important to us because our market is quite small. Quebec's territory may be large, but it is not always densely populated. That is why performers who become professional have the right, I think, to get the most from their high quality work, which is why, as a member of the Bloc Quebecois, I insisted on taking part in this debate.
I also noticed the interest shown by the hon. member for Louis-Hébert and, before him, by the hon. member for Quebec. They all come from the Quebec capital region, which is recognized and renowned for its cultural talents but which often loses its artists to other regions because of a poor standard of living or meagre retribution. We are all proud of Céline Dion, but not all artists are lucky enough to make a break on such a big market.
Therefore, this legislation is welcome. However, it has flaws that were mentioned by those who spoke before me. It must be said, however, that Bill C-32 is the second step of a review of the Copyright Act, which is almost 50 years old and which was amended in 1988. It had its shortcomings then and it still does.
We must remember that this bill provides a way to protect performers' and producers' neighbouring rights. A remuneration regime is also established in relation to the private copying of sound recordings and charges are imposed to manufacturers of blank cassettes. Exclusive distributors of books in Canada will be protected. A number of exceptions are added where no royalties or neighbouring rights can be claimed. And this is an aspect on which we have serious doubts, not enough, however, to vote against the bill, but enough for the Bloc Quebecois to argue in committee in favour of several amendments. We also want to propose amendments to existing legislation for improved collective management and civil remedies.
Neighbouring rights are rights that are recognized for recording artists and producers of sound recordings. Now, when radio stations air the works of these artists, the authors and composers receive royalties, but not the artists and producers.
In this bill, it is also provided that every radio station will benefit from a preferential rate of $100 on the first $1,250,000 of promotional sales. This means that, up to this amount, small radio stations will pay only $100. We think this is not enough.
Now there is the issue of exceptions. It is true that some community organizations made a case and that we cannot remain insensitive to their claims.
But as it is presently written, the bill provides for new exceptions. It does not provides for limitations, it adds exceptions. In this sense, it is not a step in the right direction. We will have to make adjustments here. The Copyright Act already provides for a few exceptions.
At present, there are exceptions concerning the use of any work for the purposes of private study or research; for the purposes of criticism, review or newspaper summary, if the source is mentioned; for the making or publishing of paintings and drawings; for publication in a collection, mainly composed of non-copyright matter, intended for use in schools, of short passages from published literary works in which copyright subsists. Bill C-32 adds many more exceptions for schools, libraries, museums and archive services.
To the exceptions already in existence, the bill adds, among others, the permission to use or make a copy of a work for the purposes of assignments or examinations; to make a copy of a work if its support is not of an adequate quality; to perform in public; to transmit sound recordings, television or radio programs by telecommunications within an educational institution; to make a copy of news programs; to make a copy of different programs and to retransmit them in educational institutions; the reproduction by libraries, museums, archives of works for the purposes of conservation; the permission for museums, archives and libraries to photocopy newspapers and magazines under certain conditions for their clients; the permission for museums, archives and libraries to do the above authorized work for other institutions.
It releases libraries, museums, schools and archives from their responsability for the reproduction of works made by individuals with their photocopiers. This means that a small sign will be put on photocopiers to ask people not to infringe on copyright.
It is like saying to someone in a library: "Please do not steal that bookM". I saw that once in a municipal library, and I was impressed. Well intentioned people, no doubt, had written, as a first rule: "Stealing is strictly forbidden". I found that extraordinary. This measure is similar.
We are saying to people that they can use the books and the photocopier, but that they should not use them in any way that would infringe upon copyright, of writers in this case. This shows how far the law goes. It shows the intent to legislate, but it also shows that we do not have the means to enforce the legislation.
An act can be very good, but if it is unenforceable and comes to rely exclusively on self-discipline, what use is it? That clause appears unbelievable to me. We should really amend it to avoid losing credibility.
What do Quebec writers and artists say? They were very disappointed by the exceptions provided. They say these exceptions are contrary to the spirit of the legislation, which is to protect copyrights and not deprive their owners of what legitimately belongs to them. They think that the legislator should have left users and collective societies negotiate the use of works, as is done with the Quebec Ministry of Education and the Government of Canada.
Since liberalization is pretty much in the air these days-no, dear colleague, not in the partisan meaning of the word-why not let people negotiate according to the market value principle? Those in favour of that principle should apply it to everybody, including artists.
I repeat, the great majority of artists do not earn millions. Sometimes people see Céline Dion or other big international stars and think that all artists are rich. Some have a few good years but like in the National Hockey League, careers are short. It is the same thing with the Liberal federal members-for example the government whip-whose career could very well be short. But that is another story.
In the interest of artists in Quebec and in Canada-I am sometimes told to stir up emotions in this House-we must reiterate our commitment and our sense of responsibility towards artists and writers.
Again, and I will conclude on this note, it is also important for francophones in Ontario. When I worked in that province with the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, I met excellent artists who will be very happy with the objectives of this bill. As for the means to achieve these objectives, this bill lacks teeth.
Before somebody breaks my neck, I will stop and make myself available for questions.