House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.


Copyright ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario


Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-48, an act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, in technical terms Bill C-48 is about setting modern rules for the retransmission of broadcast signals. In real terms however, the bill is much more than that.

It is about empowering our Canadian artists and children, and telling Canadian stories. It is about keeping Canada on the cutting edge of communications technology. It is about a strong Canadian economy and good Canadian jobs. The bill would strengthen our already vibrant broadcast system and protect the rights of Canadian content creators.

More than 640,000 Canadians make their living from culture. That sector contributes $22 billion to Canada's gross domestic product. We are very proud of 26,000 actors, 3,600 directors, and 2,000 screenwriters. There are more than 14,000 films and videos made in Canada each year. The film and television industry alone generates 134,000 jobs for Canadians: knowledge based jobs, high paying jobs, creative jobs, fun jobs, union jobs, and people jobs.

Canadian film and television production has grown at a staggering rate of 12% per year and represents $4.4 billion annually. The legislation is about ensuring that those jobs and production numbers keep growing. It is about ensuring that royalties are paid to creators whenever their films or song videos are broadcast, no matter what the medium.

For the most part Canadians rely upon television and radio for access to culture, information and entertainment. Thanks to recent developments Canadians are now able to communicate more easily with each other and with the world. We have high speed cable, direct to home satellite television, digital radio and multi-point wireless. Every year new communications technologies are breaking through the world, including my BlackBerry. That is Canadian technology at its finest of which we are very proud.

Of course there is the Internet. The Internet provides an ideal place to tell the world about our country, people and cultures. The Internet allows our children new opportunities to gain access to Canadian stories and voices. It opens up new worlds for Canadian talent and culture.

I am proud that Canada is the first country to have a virtual museums link that will include all of Canada's museums by 2005. During the virtual museum's first eight months, it had 20 million hits from visitors in more than 100 different countries. Thus, it is not only connecting Canadians; it is also our voice to the world.

We should relish those new technologies because they can help us to share our stories. They provide for the kind of cultural diversity and access to Canadian culture that has alluded too many minorities in the country for too long. They help connect Canadians to their heritage and their future.

What is important in this new environment is that we have rules to ensure our artists, singers, filmmakers, creators, playwrights and young video geniuses receive fair payment when their work is used. It is only fair that an Internet service that retransmits broadcast signals should be required to operate on the same basis as the cable provider.

This is an important public policy issue. If our filmmakers do not get paid for their work it is very hard for them to keep telling their stories. If our musicians are not paid for their creations, in the short term we would have cheap music and in the long term we would have few artists.

Royalties are exceptionally important in encouraging the creation and marketing of the widest possible range of Canadian voices. We need rules that are fair, clear and transparent. We need rules that encourage the creation of Canadian culture and access to that culture.

I am proud that Canada has always been on the cutting edge of new technologies. We need only think of the first great communicator of the 20th century, Marshall McLuhan, who predicted back in the 1960s that “the medium is the message”. Living as he did in a country spanning six time zones, with two official languages and over 100 languages from every corner of the globe, he understood that the ability to tell stories, to make connections, to truly respect cultural diversity in telling our stories, is what will put individuals and the country on the leading edge in the 21st century.

For generations we have put in place policies that maximize the benefits of technology to tell our stories.

We were one of the first to have a public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—Radio Canada, which started with radio some 60 years ago and added television some 50 years ago. Its creation truly filled a void for the telling of our stories.

We broke new ground with the CRTC and Canadian content rules that allowed artists to have a trampoline for the expression of their music.

From the days of Alexander Graham Bell Canadians have always been leaders in finding new ways to help people communicate with one another. In a country that passes six time zones we owe that to our citizens, not only for them to talk, grow and appreciate their own unique regions but that they can also interconnect with each other.

This legislation would be one more step along the path of support for the creation of stories and interconnection of those stories. It would be one more step in putting Canada at the forefront of the knowledge based economy, and would promote the work of our creators, artists, cultural professionals and technicians.

Another step forward has captivated all the human and economic potential of our culture. I would like to mention that the audiovisual field accounts for more than 134,000 direct jobs in Canada. This represents the largest growth in all employment fields over the last five years. These are jobs in Canada that get people to stay in Canada.

When I visited the riding of my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, he showed me what impact the movie Black Robe had on the local economy and how the kingdom of Saguenay was the jewel that allowed people in his region to express their culture. But is not only a matter of being able to be heard and to express ourselves, it also has economic benefits.

In the past few years we have doubled the annual number of Canadian television productions thanks to the Canada television fund and a government with a vision that does not create the stories but gives artists the means of expression.

We have undertaken the most important revision in copyright law of the last seven decades. I have to say to those members who will be joining us in Newfoundland for the Junos next April that there are hundreds of musicians across the country who are now receiving direct royalties because of a vision of a revised copyright law.

We have introduced new initiatives in support of book publishing, sound recording, multimedia, cultural exports, periodicals, cultural tourism, the performing arts and our training programs for young artists. We have just created the new Canada feature film fund which would reward success and encourage the creation of new Canadian films for mass audiences. Bill C-48 is one more piece in that puzzle.

The bill would provide clarity and predictability to the retransmission marketplace. It would remove the uncertainty that plagued rights holders and retransmitters over the last number of years. It would maintain and strengthen the protection afforded rights holders, protections which would be undermined without the legislation.

This forward looking law would modernize Canadian copyright law by ensuring that the licence could be rapidly and flexibly adapted to unforeseeable technological change. It would ensure that never again would a change in the method of transmission put rights holders at risk. That is the key to a sound public policy, not to create the art but to support the stories.

We must celebrate and promote the diversity of our cultures, our opinions and our perspectives, which make Canada a rich country on every front, a great country in which to live.

More than ever, Canadians must have a broadcasting system that is a true reflection of who they are and what they feel.

Now, more than ever, it is important to deepen connections between Canadians and each other, between Canadians and our communities and between Canadians and the world. We do that through our creative people and our culture, telling our stories, preserving our heritage, reminding us of our values and reflecting our hopes and aspirations.

I am very pro-Canadian. I underscore the fact that being pro-Canadian does not make me anti-American. I made a statement earlier this week which was interpreted by certain individuals to assume that I was speaking against our neighbour to the south. I was not speaking against our neighbour to the south. I was speaking in favour of a system where a country reflects its diversity in respect of differences.

We have a constitutional monarchy that is unique and cherished, linked to our past, and it is also a way of connecting with more than 40 countries around the globe.

We are part of the Francophonie. We have a direct connection with over 50 countries. That is what makes Canada's diversity. It is not that we want to be against anyone. We want to be in favour of a country that, right from the start—there were difficult periods and easier ones—was built on a revolutionary principle, the principle that two peoples, two languages and two religions can join together to create a nation.

Canada's strength is that we are not afraid of respecting diversity. We have confidence. We are pro-Canadian and proud of it.

What we are doing today is ensuring that this pride that comes from our history is maintained throughout the 21st century, with the technologies that allow our cultural sector to continue to grow.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I appreciate the opportunity to hear the minister. I wonder if, in the spirit of co-operation, one member of each party could ask a brief question of the minister? We appreciate that she is here today. We would like to follow up on the important issue of support and the arguments which she made. Could we have consent?

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The Chair is at the will of the House. Is there unanimous consent to ask questions of the minister?

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


Copyright ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


Copyright ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on the Copyright Act, Bill C-48, at second reading. Since we will be supporting the bill at second reading, I will keep my comments brief and to the bill.

First let me say that I do have a bit of personal interest in copyright because, as some may know, in my younger years I wandered around the country with a guitar making my living writing and playing music so it is something that is dear to me.

Before commenting on Bill C-48 I would like to read into the record the summary provided as part of the package announcing the bill, which states:

This enactment amends the Copyright Act to provide that retransmitters who currently benefit from the compulsory licence regime provided for by section 31 (such as cable distribution undertakings and direct-to-home satellite distribution undertakings) will continue to do so, while allowing other retransmitters who meet the conditions prescribed by regulation to also benefit from that regime.

On December 12, 2001, in a Government of Canada news release, the heritage minister is quoted as saying that:

--this bill will strengthen Canada's already vibrant broadcasting system and protect the rights of Canadian content creators. It will provide much needed clarity.

There is an expression, “there is more to this than meets the eye”. Unfortunately in this case there is far less to this than meets the eye.

The purpose of Bill C-48 is to amend the Copyright Act, which was originally amended under Bill C-32 in 1996. At that time, due to pressure exerted on the committee by the current heritage minister, there were at least two significant deficiencies in the resulting legislation. Furthermore, due to interdepartmental rivalry between the two responsible ministries, heritage and industry, and to a certain extent the personal rivalry between the ministers of the day, the revisions to the Copyright Act in 1996 yielded some questionable results. Those rivalries between ministries and ministers continued into December 2001 and the lack of agreement is reflected in the bill.

Canadian content creators and the broadcast industry deserve better. It is their property and their intellectual property that is being stolen by certain distribution systems and cable and satellite providers. Creators should be covered by copyright provisions. In addition, the industry should have the property for which they have paid good money protected.

It is for this reason that the official opposition will be voting in favour of Bill C-48. We believe in the principle of protection of property rights. However, the heritage minister's statement that the bill will provide clarity could most charitably be described as an exaggeration.

Clause 2, or proposed subsection 31(1) of the Copyright Act, defines retransmitter. In this clause it was anticipated that we would have a specific definition of a retransmitter but let us read the clause:

Paragraph 2(1) (b) states that a retransmitter is:

a person who retransmits a signal and meets the qualifying conditions referred in to in paragraph (3)(b)--

Let us look at paragraph (3)(b), which states:

The Governor in Council may make regulations

(b) prescribing qualifying conditions for the purpose of paragraph (b) of the definition “retransmitter” in subsection (1);--

Before everybody's eyes begin to roll, let me describe the net effect of these two clauses. The effect is to set up the governor in council, which is the cabinet working to the recommendations of the heritage and industry departments, to come out with regulations at some time in the future. The problem is that the Liberal government consistently falls back to creating simple enabling legislation in parliament so that the cabinet, armed with recommendations from the bureaucracy, can enact whatever the bureaucracy thinks is best at some future date.

This creates a situation of removing the decision making process from parliament. We are elected as members of parliament to come here to make decisions, not to create enabling legislation so that bureaucrats can do what they want when they want.

It can be argued that creating precise legislation means that as the technology changes the bureaucrats will have to regularly return to parliament. Therefore, with Bill C-48 functioning as enabling legislation rather than precise legislation, the bureaucrats can be flexible.

While this has a certain intellectual appeal, the result is nonetheless the same. The government is dealing duly elected members of parliament out of the process. A classic example of this situation exists in the previous copyright legislation, Bill C-32. A provision was made for a levy on blank tapes. The levy came into effect on blank tapes with the passing of the legislation. However, regulations were then put forward to the copyright review board.

Since the passing of the original legislation, the board has determined that this levy will apply not only to blank tapes but to blank CD recording medium and it likely eventually will apply to blank DVDs. Furthermore, the original levy has increased considerably based on the submissions to the copyright board by the creators, so the effect is that the parliamentary process and the representatives duly elected by the people have been sidelined by the government. Furthermore, the board is at liberty to continue expanding the mediums to which this levy will apply as well as being free to increase the levy itself.

While the creators, using the revenue base collected from these provisions, can prepare representations to the Copyright Board, directly influencing their decisions, the individual consumer who is impacted by these extra charges could not possibly afford either the time or the money required to develop proper presentation.

In order for the official opposition to vote in favour of Bill C-48 when it leaves committee, we will require one of two things: an amendment that adds to the specific definition of retransmitter, one that will act in a way to protect the property and the intellectual property rights of the creators and the broadcast industry, or at a minimum, the tabling of detailed regulatory information by the heritage and industry departments.

We want to support the bill because we believe in property rights protection. We look forward to either of those two avenues being undertaken by either the government or the departments concerned. Parliamentarians must be returned to their rightful place in the legislative process.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this somewhat technical bill. I note that the Minister of Canadian Heritage went a bit beyond merely technical considerations. She gave a lovely speech, which was all about Canadian culture.

At the end of my speech, I hope to have the time to remind her about some of the historic memories of the nations which make up this Canada and this Canadian culture which the government is so interested in supporting, to the detriment of another culture, that of Quebec. I know that the Minister of Canadian Heritage cherishes this notion of Canadian nation building, but it is not for Quebecers. What it means is denying the existence of the other culture. I will come back to this later in my speech. I am going to focus on more technical aspects of the bill.

The purpose of the bill before us today is to create new regulatory powers so that new distribution undertakings, particularly the Internet, can retransmit broadcasts if they respect the terms and conditions of the Copyright Act.

The purpose of the Copyright Act is to provide a legal framework entitling the creators of works and other copyright holders to paternity, control, and remuneration for the use of their works. These works can be films, computer programs, information products, novels or songs. This is what the Copyright Act seeks to preserve.

Copyright therefore establishes an economic and moral right for creators and other copyright holders to control the publication and marketing of their works, to protect the integrity of their undertakings, and to receive adequate remuneration.

The protection of copyright is valid for a limited time, that being the lifetime of the author, plus a period of 50 years after their death. This legislation therefore forms the basis for creative undertakings. There must therefore be a balance between the creation and the distribution of works.

Creation must be protected, but access to works continues to be an equally important challenge in an increasingly connected world. We know that the boundaries between markets are blurring. We must therefore make protected works available, with due regard for their level of protection.

With the amendments to the Copyright Act, Internet based retransmitters will have to prove that they do not broadcast beyond the borders of Canada. The survival of creation in Quebec and Canada is at stake. More on this later.

A second point in the bill is that satellite and cable systems will still be allowed to retransmit radio and television programs if they pay royalties to the Copyright Board and comply with the conditions set out in the Copyright Act. Penalties for offenses are already provided for in the act.

To start with, I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois will support the principle of Bill C-48.

For the time being, we cannot give our full and unconditional endorsement to the bill, though we are supportive of the principle of the bill. The Bloc Québécois would first like to see the content of the regulations, which the government will table in committee.

Witnesses who are interested in the issue of copyright protection could certainly give a useful input. They will appear before the committee. This caveat has also been expressed by various stakeholders and witnesses who are involved with the issue of copyright. Witnesses will give us useful information on the type of regulations put forward by the government, which will be examined in the coming weeks.

For this reason, the Bloc Quebecois will be giving its opinion on the bill in general, while we await for the regulations to be clarified in committee.

At first glance, the introduction of this bill is good news, but we will have to wait to see all of the regulations that will be proposed.

Over the months leading up to the introduction of this bill, consultations were held with interested parties, based on a working document on the enforcement of the Copyright Act, with respect to compulsory licensing for Internet rebroadcasting. This public consultation process lasted four months at most. The committee received 40 briefs explaining the issue of rebroadcasting a commercial product in violation of copyright.

This legislation was based on this, as I said, a number of stakeholders pointed out the urgency of this issue.

I would like to briefly highlight about ten of the presentations that were made, in order to shed some light on the issue of why such a bill is studied by the House today.

A number of interest groups came to make clarifications about the problem of rebroadcasting certain programs on the internet, including BCE, CBC, the Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec, the Society for Reproduction Rights for Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, the Canadian Cable Television Association, the Société des auteurs de radio télévision et cinéma (SARTEC), the Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada and the Fédération nationale des communications .

Representatives of the BCE family illustrated the rifts within the industry:

As a broadband Internet provider through Bell, ExpressVu and Bell-Nexxia, BCE is interested in the expansion of television via Internet. However, the increase in demand for broadband services has broadened its market. Furthermore, it is in the interests of BCE that the federal government adopt a technologically-neutral policy, so that its broadcast subsidiaries may distribute television signals over the Internet. Yet, as owner of CTV, it is also in the interests of BCE that the legislation also protect copyright.

The CBC is not opposed to the expansion of the mandatory licensing system set up under section 31, which I will explain later, to cover rebroadcasting over the Internet.

For its part, CBC demands that:

—any Internet-based retransmitter that wishes to benefit from the advantages of the regime should first submit convincing evidence to the effect that it has the technology required to ensure that its retransmission operation do not go beyond the limits of Canadian territory.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation also demands:

—that a monitoring mechanism be instituted with regard to the above requirements.

—that Internet-based retransmitters be subject to the same requirements as any other CRTC licensee.

—that Section 31 be amended so that advertising banners be considered as affecting the integrity of the signal.

The Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada all agree in favour of compulsory licensing of Internet-based retransmission. Full copyright must be maintained. This is all the more important as the CRTC has not regulated Internet.

For its part the Canadian Cable Television Association believes that Bill C-48 was not necessary. We know that it has a very different impact on its members. They are keeping their options open when they say we do not need Bill C-48.

According to them, the Copyright Act is meant to be technologically neutral and must remain neutral in its implementation. We can see the kind of interest the Association des câblodistributeurs has for this issue. The government must not pass legislation that might limit the opportunities for cable companies to benefit from the many possibilities offered by convergence.

As for the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma, SARTEC, it has a different opinion. It is against compulsory licensing of Internet-based retransmission.

Exempting Internet-based retransmitters from compulsory licensing does not amount to rejecting a new technology in favour of older ones. It is taking into account everybody's contribution to our broadcasting system.

Requiring compulsory licensing for Internet-based retransmission would unduly benefit third parties who do not contribute to the broadcasting system, do not fund TV production and are not subject to the CRTC regulatory framework, and therefore have no obligation to retransmit a given signal.

As we can see, there are diverging interests. The Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec is of the opinion that a compulsory copyright licensing regime for the retransmission of works through Internet should not be considered within the current Canadian regulatory framework.

In their view, a review of the current regulations was necessary.

As for the Society of Composers and Authors, several holders of copyrights suggested an amendment which would clearly indicate that local or distant signals may not be legally retransmitted over the Internet according to section 31 of the Copyright Act which deals with retransmission. This again supports the argument that Bill C-48 protects creators.

The Fédération nationale des communications said the following:

Radio and TV stations which have acquired broadcast rights and a broadcast licence must be the only ones able to decide whether their broadcasts are to be retransmitted on the internet or by means other than hertzian waves, cable or satellite.

The recent creation of Jump TV, moreover, raises major concerns in the broadcast industry, and does not allow us to conclude with any certainty that we will, once again, be able to block this retransmission of TV programming on the Internet, particularly because of the provisions of the Copyright Act.

Obviously, there are several interests, perhaps opposing interests, but we can see why the Association des câblodistributeurs has certain reservations concerning application of a regulation concerning retransmission of signals on the internet, and why protecting the rights of artists is more or less their primary objective.

Initially, and this is self-evident, it is important for the new copyright legislation to be adapted to the reality of new technologies. This is justified. For the past ten years there has been total upheaval in the field of communications, with the advent of the internet and digital broadcasting.

Second, I would like to point out how vital it is for us to legislate to protect outside markets. We know what goes on within Canada, but our creators also have to be protected elsewhere.

As hon. members are no doubt aware, the income of program producers is based on the logic of geographical markets. If a program such as La Petite vie could be retransmitted, and redistributed over the net, to anywhere in the world, the people involved with the program would lose significant revenue, without the ability to market their products in other countries.

This is reason enough for us to be concerned about the survival of artistic creation in Quebec and Canada. We know our market is already very limited. Therefore, if Internet broadcasts programs without any royalties being paid to authors or owners of copyrights, the survival of the cultural market will be at risk.

This is an important issue for the industry in Quebec and Canada because that industry relies on foreign markets to recoup the costs of large productions which cannot be profitable with only our limited local market. This is why I say that, in Quebec, protecting creation is synonym of protecting the francophone content.

Most of the artistic creation in Quebec is in French, and it must also be protected. Some markets are looking for French language productions. Our market is even smaller than the English speaking market because of sheer figures. It is all a question of balance and percentages.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

An hon. member

French language productions are not restricted to Quebec.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

No, they are not. There is also a French language market outside Quebec, but it is even more limited; I am speaking about French language productions as compared to all productions globally. If we increase the number of productions, with the related costs, it has an impact when we want to export in order to recoup the costs. We all know how the Americans do it. When they sell a product outside their own market, their costs have already been absorbed because of the size of their market.

Also, we must strike a balance between protecting artistic creations and encouraging the development of a new type of economic activity which is very important, especially since the opening of borders. Therefore, it is important for that type of economic activity to be better supervised so that we can improve profits and recoup the costs of our artistic productions.

The development of broadcasting on Internet hinges on a clarifying legislation. Internet technologies can enhance the efficiency of businesses and make it possible to develop new value-added services for consumers.

The development of such technologies and services should be fostered but also be very strictly supervised. While supporting the principle of this bill, it is very important to stress that Internet rebroadcasters should have the same obligations as traditional ones.

Actually, it would be unfair to create competition for cable operators while freeing them from the duties imposed to traditional rebroadcasters.

However, questions ought to be raised and I think that we will be able to look into this in committee. In the short and medium term, will Internet rebroadcasters be subject to the same obligations as cable operators and satellite broadcasters? We cannot answer this question. Presently, these questions remain unanswered. Will the new Internet rebroadcasters be forced to provide access to a majority of Canadian stations? Will they contribute to Canadian television development funds? Pursuant to the various regulations that will be tabled and examined in committee, we will be able to see what the scope of the overall bill is.

It should also remind hon. members that section 31 of the Copyright Act was a request from the industry. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Canadian Film and Television Production Association as well as the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association have formed the Media Content Coalition to oversee the use of Canadian television industry by Internet broadcasters.

In order to understand what is in section 31, which will be amended to establish the conditions of licences for the retransmission of works protected from television and radio, it must be said that before 1989, cable networks were not subject to copyright for the retransmission of live signals. Consequently, it was legal for cable companies to retransmit television programs without paying royalties. During the following years, many reports and studies argued that the retransmission of such programs should be subject to copyright. Finally, in 1989, a neutral communication right was created; in other words, the copyright rules would apply to cable operators as well as to Hertzian wave broadcasters.

Section 31 of the Copyright Act was included to comply with section 2006 of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Section 31 provides for a mandatory copyright licence, which allows the retransmission of protected television and radio works live without the consent of the holder of the affected rights, as long as the conditions are met, including the payment of all royalties set in accordance with a schedule established by the Copyright Board. In principle, a copyright confers its holder the exclusive right, among other things, concerning the public broadcasting of his work.

A compulsory licensing system deprives the licensee of this right. In other words, it is a system that functions by exception. It is useful, since it ensures equal treatment of program content for licensees, while preventing broadcasters from having to undertake separate negotiations with individual copyright holders.

The change proposed by Bill C-48, under consideration today, would allow cable, satellite and other broadcasters, including Internet broadcasters, without needing to obtain permission from the copyright holders, to retransmit programs that have already been broadcast. However, they would be required to pay the royalties set out by the Copyright Board and respect the other regulatory conditions.

The crux of the matter is that the regulatory provisions will not be known until the parliamentary committee holds its hearings. A number of issues raised by pressure groups will have to be dealt with in the regulations in order to rally the industry. We will outline the challenges during our speeches in the House when the bill is at third reading.

The interest groups that we met with outlined three clear principles that must be kept in mind and with which we agree. First, broadcasting must be limited to within Canada. Second, we must ensure the integrity of the signal by limiting the use of banner advertising, which would be counter-productive in many respects. Finally, measures must be put in place in order to ensure that the technologies being used will allow for the full protection of the integrity of the signal.

However, changes to the Copyright Act will not solve the entire issue. The problem will not be completely settled. Much more will need to be done in the way the Internet deals with copyright.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has told us that this bill is ahead of its time, that it responds to the era of new technologies, that it is a modern bill. We know that Australia and the United States already have regulations in place that govern the retransmission of programs using new technologies. In Canada, the CRTC excluded the Internet highway from its jurisdiction in 1999, so that only the Copyright Board can set royalties.

Internet pirating must not occur at the expense of owners and creators. We know that creators are artists, those who speak of the soul of a people, those who stir us. Artists, singers, movie and video makers and playwrights, those are the ones that we are thinking about when we want to protect copyright. We want to do it so they have more decent salaries and their creations are better protected.

Hopefully the government will act with diligence on such an important issue as the survival and protection of our creations.

I think that we have our work cut out for us. The bill before us does not cast the kind of light that we were expecting to be able to support it. Over the next few weeks, we will be studying the regulations related to this bill.

In Quebec, this takes on a particular meaning. The minister paid tribute to the Canadian nation and the Canadian soul. For creators from Quebec, the Quebec soul is just as important to preserve and broadcast to the world. Our creations must be reproduced and rebroadcast in the spirit of the people of Quebec, a spirit of openness.

It has been said that Canadian society was open to the world and accepted diversity. The same goes for Quebec society. The phrase “a Quebec that is open to the world” was used in various ad campaigns aimed at expressing the soul of Quebec.

There are also many cultural communities. They add to Quebec society, which also needs the diversity of these cultural communities to grow richer. We are not at odds with this openness. I wanted to include this thought about the soul of the Quebec people in my speech today to pay tribute to our creators.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to debate Bill C-48. I want to make some comments on the notion of copyright and intellectual property in general, and Internet retransmission in particular.

I will start off by admitting that I have a personal bias to this topic because I write plays. I receive copyright royalties for my plays. Do not get me wrong; my royalties do not make me rich or in any way compensate me for the hundreds and thousands of hours that it actually takes to create a play. However I do know something about the reality of a royalty.

Therefore I ask my parliamentary colleagues to always remember who we are really talking about when we talk about copyright. We are talking about creators, the Canadians who write, paint, compose and choreograph and who tend to be quite frankly very poor.

The Canada Council says that most make a lot less than $20,000 a year and this includes royalty payments. I feel it is safe to say that the money given to creators for their work is almost always inadequate, but the point I want to make is that our approach to copyright should not be simply a question of money. It really is about much more than money. It should be about recognizing creation.

I know that some will not see it this way. I know for example that the Canadian Association of Broadcasters believes strongly that we must have strict copyright laws to protect the property of its members because to them the copyright is intellectual property, like an electronic mortgage that they should have a lien on or a televised mineral right that they are waiting to strip mine.

I know that many believe and have graphs and numbers to show that the western economies excel because of our recognition of intellectual property. However the so-called knowledge economy seems to fail to recognize that knowledge is simply borrowed creation. Without the creator there is no intellectual property.

If we simply follow the definitions provided by intellectual property treaties, they believe that our patent and copyright laws should always equate the act of writing poetry with the act of protecting the international patent for prozac.

I hope that groups like the Media Content Coalition will understand that strict copyright approaches to copyright reform will not always work. Our current law understands this. We already have exemptions for copyright, law relating to churches, educational institutions and persons with disabilities, but the exceptions are very small and restrictive. Churches can use music without paying royalties as long as there is no gain involved.

An individual can use any copyrighted work for research, private study, criticism, news reporting or reviewing as a fair dealing but the source must always be mentioned.

An educational institution can use a mechanical copy of a copyrighted work for display for testing, examination or translation on its premises for instructional purposes.

Creators are compensated through a government program to allow their works to be freely available through our library system. These flexible approaches are ones that creators want, and I hope the corporate copyright community will agree with the flexible approach to the law.

One unique thing about copyright is what is called the moral right. This is one place established in law where the power of the creator still shines and it shows how different a copyright is from a patent, the physical kind of intellectual property.

While the copyright can be assigned or sold by the creator, the moral right is the creator's right to be associated with the creation and the right to the integrity of the work. This right is always kept by the author or creator or his or her estate. Maintaining integrity means keeping their work from being distorted, mutilated or otherwise modified or used in association with a product, service, cause or institution. Otherwise, no one can use their creation for profit with or without their permission.

In a real way, Bill C-48 tries to address the same principle. The Internet provides a new way to communicate, to research, to entertain and to conduct business, but the technology has also created the ability to take, in effect steal, someone's creation and show it on the Internet without permission, without paying a royalty and without paying any attention to the creators. In fact they are stealing the creation and devaluing the creator.

After all, the television program was written by someone, acted out by someone and the set was designed by someone. By simply taking the creation and using a technological loophole, sending it out over the Internet and using it to sell advertising it is quite offensive to my creative sensibilities.

Bill C-48 changes section 31 of the Copyright Act to allow this loophole to be plugged.The bill would do this while still recognizing some of the more progressive collective approaches taken in our copyright law.

Despite the efforts of some in the corporate world, we have a collective approach to a lot of our copyright law. We do not track down every teenager and sue them every time they tape a CD or burn a copy of their favourite song. Instead, we have a very small charge on blank tapes and CDs which makes its way back to the creator. Frankly, as the parent of two teenagers, I know that this pragmatic approach is all for the better.

When a cable company captures a television signal and replays it to its subscribers, a compulsory licence is created and the equivalent of a royalty is paid. This is a good, pragmatic alternative to having every small cable carrier negotiate with every broadcaster to send its signal.

What Bill C-48 does is extend this system to the wide open spaces of the Internet. Some have proposed that this not be allowed or have suggested that retransmission only be allowed through a secure channel. However, we have to start down the road of dealing with the legal aspects of content on the worldwide web.

We have a responsibility to deal with the inaccurate impression that the Internet is a lawless place. We know in our hearts that laws do apply to cyberspace. We arrest and prosecute child pornographers who lurk online. We prosecute hatemongers and holocaust deniers who try and hide behind web servers.

The CRTC has backed off on regulating the net, but it is patently obvious that the government now has to deal with the details of regulating the net. If it fails in this challenge, then our cultural sovereignty will eventually disappear.

In conclusion, I believe that it is time we also applied the basic dignity of recognition for creation, which we do through copyright, to the Internet. I eagerly await the next bill in this area from the government as it proceeds with copyright reform.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to also join in the debate on this important bill. I want to commend my colleagues for their speeches as well.

We know that our colleague who just spoke is a well known playwright in Canada and we applaud her contributions in that area. She brings a unique perspective to the heritage committee and always has a lot of valuable comments to make on these topics.

In fact, Bill C-48, an act to amend the Copyright Act, in many ways would have applications to the producers and the writers of Canadian content. It is important that we close the loophole that allows rebroadcasting, through Internet technologies, of Canadian content in a way that was never designed to happen. That is why those of us in the coalition are generally supportive of Bill C-48 because it addresses a problem that has come about mainly because of the development of technology in this area.

We also share some of the concerns that have been addressed by colleagues from the Alliance and from the Bloc in terms of regulations. We see quite often that--

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The hon. government House whip on a point of order.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is close to the end of this debate. My understanding is that the member currently speaking is the last member who wishes to speak on this bill. I wonder if there might be unanimous consent of the House to allow him a maximum of 10 minutes to complete his remarks and then proceed to private members' business. That would mean the bill would be disposed of for now and could be referred to the committee immediately.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is there unanimous consent to allow the member to have 10 minutes?

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Copyright ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, I do not have a problem with wrapping up the debate on this issue.

As I was saying, we do have some concerns with the bill in terms of regulations. Time and time again we see the notion of regulations that will be developed after the fact and we do not always get a chance to see them at committee.

My colleague from Fundy--Royal pointed out to me that it is similar to the situation that has gone on with the species at risk bill and many other bills in this place. This actually came up in private members' business yesterday with the motion we debated in terms of parliamentary reform. We need to look at and streamline our procedures. One of them has to do with the whole area of regulations. The government takes this route to define after the fact through regulations what will actually be the intent of the legislation. I and, I believe, my colleagues in the coalition share those concerns as well.

The legislation continues to protect the interests of those who are currently defined as retransmitters under section 31, including cable and satellite providers in Canada and the United States. The bill will amend that definition so that new entrants, such as Internet based retransmitters and any other currently unforeseen technology based retransmitters, will be able to qualify for the compulsory redistribution licence. As I said earlier, the bill does not define the qualifying conditions that the Internet based distribution systems will need to meet in order to receive the compulsory licence. These conditions will be required in order to rebroadcast programs but will be defined at a later date through regulations which I addressed earlier.

I want to talk about some of the comments the minister made. I appreciate that the minister was here to deliver a speech. I did have some questions for her which I did not get a chance to ask openly in the House, but I think they are questions she would be more than willing to answer perhaps in another format. I will put them on the record for her.

One of them is that the bill has been designed to address a loophole in the Copyright Act. Another loophole currently exists in terms of broadcasting. It has to do with what is called the grey market and the black market in satellite transmissions that originate in the United States and which are received here in Canada by individuals, many of them living close to the United States. A vast number of our people live close to the Canada-U.S. border. Individuals are able to buy satellite technology here in Canada to receive the beams being sent from the United States.

The same bypassing that the bill addresses in terms of Internet rebroadcasting is happening with Canadian content over foreign signals received in Canada that are basically unauthorized. Our playwrights, our producers and the people who work in the industry, and as the minister outlined, I think she said that there are 130,000 or so, are not getting their due.

I would ask the minister if she would endeavour, in the same way that she has moved forward on the bill, to move forward quickly to close this other loophole as well. All the arguments that she made in her speech, and I agree with most of them, are arguments that can be made in terms of this other loophole having to do with the satellite transmissions that originate from the United States and which are received in an unauthorized manner here in Canada.

I might add that individuals in Canada who have this technology are mainly doing so under the assumption that it is legal and proper because of the way these products are being distributed. We need to address that and see if we can get a similar resolution to that as this bill attempts to address.

I asked the minister this question once in committee and she did respond to it. This has more to do with the Broadcasting Act and it is the issue of foreign ownership. I asked her whether the government would be willing to consider a review at least of our foreign ownership policy so that our Canadian broadcasters could compete, not only head to head with each other here in Canada but also internationally. I think we have seen more and more competition arising, but they are not only competing with broadcasters in Canada but with a very large market south of us in the United States. In order to compete globally they need access to capital. They need the ability to compete. It is certainly something that needs to be addressed.

The heritage committee has been studying the Broadcasting Act and many individuals have provided us with briefs and opinions. This has been a worthwhile process. All parties are working co-operatively in committee, as often happens. However, the disappointing part of working co-operatively in committee is that over and over again at the end when the report is finished, the government either changes the recommendations or puts them on the shelf. Members of the heritage committee hope that will not happen with the Broadcasting Act review which we are undertaking. We hope the government will seriously consider the proposals being made.

I have wavered a bit from Bill C-48, but we are generally supportive of the bill. We urge the minister to move forward in a similar fashion to address the grey market and black market areas of satellite broadcasting as well. We look forward to seeing the regulations. We look forward to dealing with the bill when it gets to committee and to solve the problem hopefully sooner rather than later.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is the House ready for the question?

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It being 1.40 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Parliamentary TelecommunicationsPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC


That this House do install an accessible and functional telecommunications infrastructure so that virtual meetings between parliamentarians from here and around the world may be held for the purpose of participating in regular debates on matters of mutual concern.

Madam Speaker, as you may have noticed, this motion may look somewhat futuristic and appear to be coming straight out of Star Trek . I wish to explain why I have moved this motion, which unfortunately is not a votable item.

I believe that most of my colleagues are aware of my interest in issues relating to the globalization of economies and its consequences.

It is important to understand the globalization process and I have been trying to do just that since 1998. I call upon my colleagues to continue to ponder on this, examine the consequences—and there are several of them, especially when we deal with global economy. At the same time, the nature of the power of governments remains national.

We need to have some international organizations capable, to a certain extent, of overseeing globalization. At present, many international organizations have left themselves open to criticism on several fronts. One of those is their lack of democracy. Let us take for example the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the World Trade Organization. There is no perfect organization, but we must recognize that international organizations are playing an increasingly important role and that they are bound to do so increasingly in the future.

Over the past few years, international economic agreements, like the free trade area of the Americas that affects us so much, have taken on a new importance.

For several years now, negotiations on this very important agreement have been going on. All those international organizations and international agreements have one thing in common: the negligible role parliamentarians are allowed to play.

Of course, there are here and there some committees and parliamentarians are being invited to take part in some international meetings. However, the question we must ask ourselves is the following: we only talk and do not act, but as we are debating parliamentary reform and the role of parliamentarians, should we also turn our attention to globalization?

Twenty years from now, with the increasing globalization of the economies, what would it mean to be a parliamentarian? How would the world be governed? A number of questions could be raised.

I believe there is a consensus among parliamentarians, at least I hope so. I have heard several parliamentarians complain about their very limited involvement in international agreements. At the first forum of the parliamentarians of the Americas, held in Quebec City, the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Americas, participants expressed their concern about the fact that too few parliamentarians take part in these debates. Business organizations are involved, but unfortunately civil society is mostly absent and parliamentarians do not have enough say.

In the current system, parliamentarians are still in the best position to bridge the gap between the people and the decision makers or the executive branch of the governments. There are a lot of parliamentarians' associations throughout the world, and the Conference of Parliamentarians is growing. I could talk about the Interparliamentary Forum of the Americas, even if I have many criticisms regarding this even. My hon. colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and I attended the first meeting of the forum held in this House. Even if parliamentarians from all over the world are eager to work together, there is still a problem. I think that, more than ever, parliamentarians from each and every country need to work together on issues that go far beyond their national borders.

I am thinking about economic agreements, environmental agreements, financial markets and world democracy. We would like to deal with these issues in this parliament, but a lot of questions go well beyond our borders. Should the ministers be the only ones to try to solve these issues? I think we should all be involved.

For all the reasons, I think parliamentarians should work together to balance and monitor everything that is going on. In this House, we have members constantly putting questions to the government and government members being held accountable.

There is no system of checks and balances at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the World Trade Organization to review all the decisions being made. Of course, these are huge institutions, but at some point in time, we will have to establish some kind of opposition to make these agencies more transparent.

I think the role of parliamentarians has to evolve and all parliamentarians should co-operate with their counterparts from other countries and, in our case, the Americas. Of course, it is easier said than done because of one major obstacle, the distance.

I have just returned from Porto Alegre, where 55,000 participants from the civil society and approximately 1,000 parliamentarians met with goodwill. However, the problem is that we cannot continue this work before next year, in another forum of parliamentarians. Imagine, when one meets once a year, one cannot make much progress.

This explains my motion. Of course, this is a proposal and I do think that we have the telecommunications infrastructure needed. We were beginning to consider implementing the technology infrastructures that would allow parliamentary committees from all over the Americas to communicate.

Take for example the issue of genetically modified organisms. This issue must be resolved not only within a country, but all over the world. This issue involves all human beings.

It would be possible to have debates involving parliamentarians from every country, maybe 50 countries to start with. If we allowed a parliamentarian from each country to take part in a debate with the best experts in the world, and if that debate were on Internet, for example, thus easily accessible, I think that this would be one step toward the process of democratizing the whole debate. I am not saying that this will solve everything overnight. Of course, that is not what I think, but we would have the means to do much more serious work with the parliamentarians in the rest of the Americas.

I sit on one parliamentary committee a week, but perhaps I could sit on a second one that would be international. Of course, I would stay here in Ottawa and my colleagues from other countries would all be in their parliament. Through televirtuality, we could, once a week, go deeper into issues, make recommendations, promote some issues and serve as a counterbalance to this government. I believe this would help democracy a little.

Some people will ask me “Yes, but how do you want to implement this system?” This is not the issue today. The issue is not to ask what kind of instruments or technological infrastructure we will get. The question to ask ourselves, as parliamentarians, if we want our work to evolve with globalization, is this: if we were able to communicate, to share information regularly through video and audio means, what would be the result? Would we be able to do more work?

I believe so. All I say today is, let us get some new kind of telephone and then we will be able to talk to one another. When we are able to do so, then we will see the result.

If the economy is globalizing, parliamentarians' work and democracy must also globalize. This is what I am proposing today. My objective is to get a consensus from parliamentarians so we can say “Yes, we have the political will to give ourselves such an instrument”. Then, it will be up to computer engineers, or whoever.

They will be the ones to propose possible solutions. It has to be understood that attending a continental or international forum is very costly, takes time and reduces the effectiveness of parliamentarians. Stress added to jet lag reduces everyone's performance level.

We must invest to some extent in such a system. Maybe the telecommunications infrastructure does not permit such virtual communications right now. However, in four or five years, I think it will be possible. Technology evolves at light speed. We must prepare for that. This is why I submit this motion today.

What will the future be? It is clear that such a system will exist in the future. It is only a question of time. Some members might smile today when they hear my proposal, but it has happened before that people have laughed at what I have said to the House, for example when I proposed that we speak more extensively about globalization. Now we are doing it. I am not saying that I am responsible for that, but I think I was part of a trend. We must maintain the momentum. We must look ahead. We should not wait for others, but we should be proactive. This is why I am moving this motion today.

However, I am disappointed to see that it is not votable. It would certainly have been appropriate to have the members look into this matter and give their opinion on the subject. I cannot imagine that members would not want tools to make the communications with their foreign counterparts easier.

What form will this ultimately take? Does it mean that the work of the parliamentarians on this virtual committee would be formal? It is a little early to suggest any advance solution. In the beginning, it could all be done very informally. But with time, this informal work could become more formal, just like what happened in the European Union.

The European Union was not created in one day. Lots of preliminary meetings and exchanges took place. At one point, it all flowed together and we finally saw the establishment of a European parliament.

Could we not imagine a virtual or global parliament? I am not talking about a global government, but rather a global parliament, in which all parliamentarians in the world could have regular contacts? I believe we could.

Therefore, I am floating this balloon, so to speak, and I really look forward to seeing my colleagues reaction, particularly since I have already proposed this publicly by sending a letter to the 300 parliamentarians in the House. The very next day, during the Interparliamentary Forum of the Americas, the idea was presented again and supported by the Mexicans.

Let us see now where the support will come from. The idea is now public knowledge and we now have to debate how to make it feasible.

Parliamentary TelecommunicationsPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 365. It states:

That this House do install an accessible and functional telecommunication infrastructure so that virtual meetings between parliamentarians from here and around the world may be held for the purpose of participating in regular debates on matters of mutual concern.

I wholeheartedly agree with the direction of the motion. There is a high level of cynicism among Canadians about how we run the country. Certainly one of the main reasons for this is the imperial approach taken by the cabinet and the archaic electoral system we have which allows a minority of voters to control the majority of seats in the Chamber.

These problems require fundamental solutions which the motion does not address. There is no doubt that better communication between parliamentarians and Canadians would help to reduce the cynicism that permeates the country. It would also improve the way the country is run.

Parliamentarians from all sides of this place know that a lot of the real nation building that takes place in parliament is not in the scripted showplace of question period. Far too often the Chamber has become a place of posturing and political one-upmanship, not a place of thoughtful debate on the issues before the nation. There is a quiet desire among MPs from all sides of the House to have more real debates on issues, to explore and challenge opinions and to genuinely represent the diverse opinions of constituents.

Much of this happens in committees. Most Canadians know little or nothing about what happens in parliamentary committees. We have some great examples of MPs from all parties working together in small groups in committees to greatly improve policy and legislation. I was involved in a cultural policy review a few years back and lately we have seen how a committee worked well to explore options to help children at risk and people with disabilities.

There is no doubt in my mind that these important explorations of issues facing Canadians have improved government policy. There is also no doubt in my mind that using technology increases the access of parliamentarians to Canadians, of Canadians to parliamentarians and of parliamentarians to experts on issues from across Canada and around the world. All of this would improve our communication.

I should note that some of this work is already underway. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is currently conducting a study of broadcasting in Canada. We are already using teleconferencing on a limited basis to discuss matters with experts. We have also seen the immense technological infrastructure available to us in our recent site visits to broadcasters in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. I am looking forward to learning more about how this technology is being used in Canada when the standing committee visits Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina and Winnipeg next week.

I am a member of the HRDC Subcommittee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and I know that the chair of the subcommittee, the member for St. Paul's, wants to actively pursue new technology options to allow more Canadians with disabilities to participate and follow in the committee's work.

While I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of the workings of the new technologies, I would not know a Hertzian wave if it hit me, I do believe that as tools for democracy the new technology is something we need to be using more and more. I congratulate the member on his motion and give it my support.