Mr. Speaker, the issue of ephemeral exemption or time shifting as it is sometimes referred to falls into the category of the discussion the parliamentary secretary and I had previously. Frequently measures are brought forward by the government that are not what we would consider to be adequate. Although I recognize that they were brought forward in response to the concerns that had been expressed over the issue of ephemeral or time shifting, the measures that have been proposed by the government, unfortunately in my judgment are singularly inadequate.
It is going to put a tremendous onus on charities and cable companies. I recognize that tapes can be maintained for a period of time. But it is my judgment that period of time is simply not long enough.
Many programs that are captured by the local cable companies during the late summer and fall are broadcast at Christmas time. I do not see how the amendments brought forward by the government would capture that. In other words, the exception proposed by the government will not permit that to happen.
I would like to look now on the impact of copyright in Bill C-32 on francophone broadcasters in general. I read from a brief I received: "Even if the proposed ephemeral exemptions limitation respecting the promotion of a cause or institution were removed, other qualifications of the exception would still make it possible for the stations to use the exception. The proposed exception is currently worded so that it will not apply where a collective can licence an ephemeral reproduction".
It is in this area of collectivity that we were speaking earlier today. As a matter of fact, in the province of Quebec with SODRAC, Société du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs au Canada, because a collective exists and because of the patchwork the legislation actually represents, a problem remains in spite of the government's move to try and alleviate it.
The bill was originally intended to take 1924 legislation and bring it forward into 1997. It has not occurred in this instance. I used the example earlier today of a small market radio station where a person would be faced with row upon row of CDs that someone will be taking down manually and putting into the CD player as opposed to going into a medium or larger market area where cuts from those CDs have been transferred on to a direct drive and can be accessed at the drop of a pin.
This bill does not recognize the difference between physical manual labour filing and electronic filing. Electronic filing is simply lifting those digital impressions from the CDs or from other medium and transferring them to a direct drive or some other medium. The legislation does not reflect the reality of electronics today. That is a real shame.
Broadcasters across Canada are going to be squeezed as undoubtedly the government is going to be forcing neighbouring rights through. This means that some of the larger operations are going to be looking at a fairly sizeable bill. It is not the $100 bill for the small operation, it is the larger bill for the larger operations. Because of the sheer size of these operations and the number of people that work for them, they will be able to make choices to use electronic equipment, possibly to replace some of their staff so they can pay the neighbouring rights. Then they are going to be faced with a dilemma because they do not have a true ephemeral exemption. There is really no transfer of medium possibility that is a sure thing. We could end up with some kind of a collective or some artist coming after us because we electronically transferred a signal back and forth. Then they are caught on double horns of the dilemma.
The first dilemma is that the government is asking them to pay higher fees in the form of neighbouring rights. The second
dilemma is that they do not know if they will be able to pay for that by laying off one or two people or whatever it is going to take to pay that bill. They do not know if they are going to be able to make use of the electronics that are available today because there is no surety with this legislation.
It was repeated time and time again in committee that what the broadcasters and those in the broadcasting business so desperately need is the assurance of knowing where they are going.
I respect the artists who came before us as I respect the collectives and the artist organizations when they say: "We do not intend to use our privilege of having these copyright privileges". That is all very well and good but if a business is making a $20,000, $200,000 or $200 million decision on what it is going to be doing about new electronic equipment, would it not be nice if it had a bit of an idea of what the rules were going to be when a new crop of artists or perhaps some new people are involved in managing that collective?
This is one of the most flawed parts of the legislation in that a dollar and cent number cannot be applied to it. This is going to create an insecurity within the broadcast industry that should have, would have and could have been resolved with a little bit clearer intent expressed by the government. I think it is a shame.
All I can say is that contrary to all of the wonderful catcalls that we get from the other side, I really believe that at some point, probably in this next election, Reform is going to prevail and when we become government we are going to straighten this sucker out.