House of Commons Hansard #169 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was land.


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, following consultations between the parties, I believe that if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in relation to its studies on North American Relations and Security and the Agenda for the June 2002 G8 Agenda, be authorized to travel and hold hearings in two groups in Western Canada and Ontario respectively from May 5 to May 10, 2002 and that the necessary staff also be authorized to travel.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is there unanimous consent?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, after consultations I believe you would also find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, the Special Committee on non-medical use of drugs be authorized to travel to and hold hearings in Edmonton, Alberta and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from Sunday, April 28 to Friday, May 3, 2002 in relation its mandate and, that the necessary staff accompany the Committee; and

That, four members of the Special Committee on non-medical use of drugs be authorized to participate in the IDEAS Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia from May 1 to 3, 2002 in relation to its mandate, and, that, one staff person accompany the members; and

That, the Special Committee on non-medical use of drugs be authorized to travel to New York and Washington, D.C., from Sunday, June 2 to Thursday, June 6, 2002 for meetings with officials from the United Nations, American Drug Enforcement Agencies and independent agencies in relation to its mandate and, that the necessary staff accompany the Committee; and

That, the Special Committee on non-medical use of drugs be authorized to travel to Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands from Friday, June 14 to Saturday, June 22 for meetings with European officials in relation to its mandate and, that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC


Motion No. 431

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should draft legislation deleting sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to stand and speak to the issue because the minister of heritage in her wisdom has decided not to do anything about it. I draw to the attention of the House the fact that she is sitting on her hands with respect to the issue.

I will briefly describe what Motion No. 431 is about. In 1997 when the Copyright Act was amended and brought up to standard by Bill C-32 two clauses were inserted, namely clauses 30.8(8) and 30.9(6). The issue is about copyright and the fact that artists should be able to gain from commercial playing of their performances.

I want it to be crystal clear: I and the Canadian Alliance Party are in favour of the principle of copyright and compensation for people whose performances are played by commercial radio stations in any form, particularly where gain is made by the performance.

During the hearings we looked at two issues. First, we looked at prerecorded recordings which are covered by section 30.9 of the act. Second, we looked at ephemeral recordings which are covered by section 30.8.

Ephemeral recordings are things that just happen. For example, let us suppose a Santa Claus parade went by a television camera and the camera captured the image but also captured a band playing White Christmas or another popular song in both video and audio. It would then presumably be replayed on a cable network at a later point.

Prerecorded recordings are obvious. They occur where people perform for the purpose of putting their music on some kind of medium which can be physically carried, sent through the mail, walked down the street or put into a tape player, CD player or whatever the case may be.

We looked at the fact that there are times when music which is typically in digital format is transferred from a CD to a direct drive, MP3 or other device. When music is transferred digitally it is called a transfer of medium.

I will restate for the third time that I and the Canadian Alliance are in favour of fair compensation for artists whose music is played on radio stations when the playing of the music yields revenue to the radio station. The artists should get to share in the revenue. I believe there is agreement on the part of all parties with respect to this.

Sections 30.8 and 30.9 of the Copyright Act focus on when the digital image of music is transferred from one medium to another but not heard or played. That is what the exclusion is about.

I will read from the act as it exists:

30.9 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for a broadcasting undertaking to reproduce in accordance with this section a sound recording, or a performer's performance or work that is embodied in a sound recording, solely for the purpose of transferring it to a format appropriate for broadcasting, if the undertaking

(a) owns the copy of the sound recording, performer's performance or work and that copy is authorized by the owner of the copyright;

(b) is authorized to communicate the sound recording, performer's performance or work to the public by telecommunication;

(c) makes the reproduction itself, for its own broadcasts--

I will not read all the terms and conditions but, as technology advances and as we transfer this music, which is still in an unheard electronic digital format when it is being transferred from a CD to an MP3 player for other reasons, they are clearly there to get around the problems.

However, the collectives who were involved in the copyright hearings asked that the following clause giving this exemption be inserted:

This section does not if a licence is available from a collective society to reproduce the sound recording, performer's performance or work.

In other words, if I were Bryan Adams and I had a recording that was to be transferred and I was not a member of a collective, I, as the artist, would not be able to go after this unintended copyright fee because it is an unintended copyright fee. No value is received for this transfer of medium.

What has happened is that most of the action on this has been because the artists are generally members of a collective. What was intended to be an exclusion really is not an exclusion after all because the collectives are now pursuing it. This is really unfortunate.

I go back to the oral remarks of David Basskin of the CMPA to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on November 7, 1996. On page 8 he stated:

Music publishers recognize that such copying [Radio transfers of format] is integral to the operation of radio stations, and also realize that any publisher foolish enough to demand payment for such copying would likely find himself frozen out of the station's playlist in short order.

Here is a commitment by somebody who was in a position of authority saying that he would not do this.

On November 7, 1996, he further stated:

I cannot speak for everybody, but I think I can speak for my board of directors who represent the largest and best-known interests. On the radio side, we don't seek to change the status quo. If this results in an agreement at a very low or gratis rate, I think we'd be entirely happy. I can't predict, but we'll certainly try our best and we'll keep the committee apprised of our work in this regard.

Not once but twice in that same committee this member said that his collective was undertaking not to do what it in fact was doing. It is presently before the copyright board trying to get a fee attached to the transfer of medium.

One collective, SODRAC, which was in place in 1997, said that it had an arrangement with CBC stating that when it had a transfer of medium with CBC it would pay for it. There was pressure from SODRAC literally days before the legislation came to a conclusion in committee to insert clause 8 into the legislation. The CMRRA, which is the Canadian Mechanical Reproduction Rights Agency, said that not only was it not collecting royalties but that it also had no intention of ever doing it. These collectives existed at the time but collected royalties for different things. After clause 8 was included and clause 9 as another clause, it developed a new sideline which allowed it to collect from another source.

This is completely unfair. We pointed out in committee that the insertion of these clauses would basically allow the collectives to supersede, wipe out or negate this very logical, rational and reasonable exception. When we pointed that out we were told by the collectives that they would not do this. This is a law that simply cannot stand because the collectives have not kept their word. In actual fact I could never understand why clause 8 and clause 6 were put in in the first place.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage should realize that this is an unfair form of revenue collection from the commercial broadcasters. It is unfair and unwarranted and is ill-found money. The collection of this accidental fee was never intended by the legislators, myself included, who were on the committee nor by the members of the House.

When talking about business, we are talking about a bottom line. Any business in Canada has a responsibility to pay its taxes, fees, rent and to pay its royalties.

This is the fourth time, but I want to make it crystal clear. I and the Canadian Alliance are not opposed to the collection of royalties. We believe that a person has a right to his or her property. If that property is being used for commercial purposes and there is commercial gain, there should be payment to the holder, the owner of that property.

By virtue of these two clauses of exception, those copyright holders are able to get their hands into an area to extract money which was never intended by the legislators.

I have brought forward this motion to prompt the heritage minister, to prompt the heritage department and to prompt my other colleagues in the House to make the necessary change so that our copyright system is fair and balanced.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry Québec


Serge Marcil LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to the motion before the House. The motion is for the government to draft legislation deleting sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act.

In the Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada undertook to make Canadian copyright legislation among the most modern and avant-garde in the world.

The country needs a modern copyright regime. This regime supports Canadian authors and artists, as well as the cultural industries to which they belong. It is a powerful means of promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and success in the new economy.

The member for Kootenay--Columbia put forward Motion M-431. He is calling on the government to draft legislation deleting sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act.

In my view, the motion is premature, because this is one of the issues which will be addressed in the report to be tabled in parliament by the Minister of Industry, as required under section 92 of the Copyright Act.

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada held in Bishop v. Télé-Métropole, that ephemeral recordings are recordings within the meaning of the Copyright Act. Following this ruling, broadcasters had to obtain the permission of copyright holders to make such recordings. They argued that the procedure was onerous and costly and that these recordings were merely incidental to the actual broadcasting.

As a result, through Bill C-32, an act to amend the Copyright Act, passed in 1997, the government added sections 30.8 and 30.9. Under these sections, broadcasters who are authorized to broadcast a live program, a sound recording or a performance which is part of a sound recording may, without seeking the authorization of the copyright holder, make a single copy, also called an ephemeral or temporary recording, either for time shifting or for the purpose of converting a recording into an appropriate format for transmission.

That having been said, sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) also provide that if a licence is available from a collective society, a broadcaster must use the licence to make the ephemeral recording; he must also pay the required royalties.

As for French recordings, SODRAC, the Société des droits de reproduction des auteurs et compositeurs, was created in order to issue licences for the production of ephemeral recordings, among other things. As a result, Quebec broadcasters have been paying royalties for some time.

Outside Quebec there was no body authorized to issue licences. Recently the CMRRA, the Canadian Music Reproduction Rights Agency, converted to a licencing body in order to issue licences for the production of recordings. The agency has provided the Copyright Board with the list of charges it plans to implement. The board is due to hold hearings on this around mid-2002.

In June 2001, the Government of Canada began consultations and a reform to bring Canadian copyright legislation more up to date. The document entitled “A Framework for Copyright Reform” sets out the context and mechanisms of that reform and indicates the federal government's intention to take a step-by-step approach to examining reform proposals, consulting the Canadian public and amending the law.

Section 92 of the Copyright Act stipulates that the provisions and operation of the act must be reviewed. It also requires the Minister of Industry to report to both houses of parliament by September 2002. Subsection 92(2) requires a parliamentary committee to review this report.

During that review, the public will have the opportunity to present its views. The committee is required to report to parliament within a year of the tabling of the report required under section 92.

As the government has stipulated with the publication of its Framework for Copyright Reform, the report required in section 92 will set out the government's program with respect to copyright. More specifically, it will set out the list of questions to be addressed subsequently. These will be organized according to certain precise criteria, and then prioritized. One of the points to be included will be the wording of sections 30.8 and 30.9.

In conclusion, I would say that it is better to settle this question within the context of the procedure defined in section 92.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

April 16th, 2002 / 6 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Motion M-431, moved by the member for Kootenay--Columbia, is to also to amend the Copyright Act, by repealing subsections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6), which would allow broadcasters to stop paying royalties on ephemeral recordings.

May I remind our colleague from Kootenay--Columbia that royalties are based on the legal notion of property, and that royalty protection normally ends 50 years following the death of the author.

On numerous occasions, the Bloc Quebecois has advocated for the legitimate rights of authors and artists to earn a decent living from the revenue generated by their creations.

When the member for Kootenay--Columbia tells us that they were not earned legitimately and that radio stations have costs and rent to pay, I could respond in turn that artists also have rent and costs to pay.

The federal government made a commitment to ensure that the Canadian copyright system remains one of the best and most progressive systems in the world. However, this must not be done at the expense of the protection of authors and artists.

The House gave serious consideration and held lengthy discussions when it established royalties. I would like to remind the House that these authors earn their living from royalties paid to them for what they have composed or created. Copyright exists as much to reward the creative process as the dissemination of knowledge and cultural content, and it encourages access to this knowledge and content. Many artists earn a very modest living and often their income is below the poverty level. Far too many artists earn between $7,000 and $12,000.

What is the purpose of this motion? How do we define ephemeral recordings? Allow me to explain it. This motion would exempt broadcasters from having to pay royalties when they transfer documents belonging to authors to their hard drive. Let us call this a copy. This transfer to a hard drive is done for the purposes of facilitating broadcasting.

The computer allows them, for example, to select all of the songs on a given subject, such as spring, women or another subject, without having to search through all of their collection manually. This process is therefore economically advantageous because it is quicker. So, broadcasters are, in fact, saving.

Before the advent of the new technologies, this selection was made by employees who were remunerated for their work. But the new method saves money, and these savings still do not seem to be enough. Now, what broadcasters want is to no longer have to pay the royalty when they transfer music or art to their hard drive because there is no immediate distribution. However, this transfer would never be done if the goal was not distribution.

Even though distributors are already realizing considerable savings through these technologies, they do not want to pay the royalties on the transfer, arguing that there is no distribution at that particular time. However, the body representing authors is formally opposed on their behalf to deleting this clause because this use of the work of creators is a copy, and there is no reason why creators should not be paid for their work.

If the member for Kootenay--Columbia had attended our committee's meeting this morning, he would have heard our questions about this. We asked certain stakeholders working on copyright what their position on this issue was, and this is what they told us.

Before Bill C-32, there was no exemption. Since the 30-day exemption, it is rare, not to say exceptional, for distributors to ask for this exemption. We also have a request from the member for Kootenay--Columbia reminding of the situation faced by creators.

The Copyright Act has evolved considerably since 1924. I would like to take a look at its history. The act has adapted to the new realities. From 1988 to 1994, four amendments were made to the Copyright Act, most of them in order to allow Canada to meet NAFTA and WTO obligations.

In April 1996, the government introduced Bill C-32, which recognized the neighbouring rights of artists and record producers, the implementation of a system of what is called “copies for personal use”, that is the right to charge royalties on blank audio tapes, the establishment of new exceptions, such as ephemeral copies.

Today, broadcasters want to do away with the concession for ephemeral recordings. What did they do prior to Bill C-32?

I am speaking today in order to remind the House that it has a duty to continue to protect artists despite all the pressures that may be brought to bear on some of its members to restrict application of the Copyright Act.

The House must take care to defend the rights of authors and performers to be paid for what they do, and paid every time their work is used or broadcast. I see no valid reason why creators would not be paid for their work and for the copies made of it.

I cannot understand why this motion is being brought forward now in the House, when the hearings on bills relating to the royalties payable in Canada for the reproduction of musical works by a radio station other than CBC and Radio-Canada are about to start, on April 22. I would like to offer an example.

The broadcasting association, via the agency that administers their royalty system, has proposed the following: television agencies would pay 25% of their gross revenues to them for a monthly licence, if their request is accepted. On the other hand, SODRAC's suggestion on behalf of the authors at these same hearings will be 1.96% of their revenue.

The conclusion we can reach from this example is that, when broadcasters want to be paid royalties they are very hard-line and demand high amounts, but when they are the ones to pay the royalties, they want the figure to be low.

The Bloc Quebecois will therefore oppose the motion of the hon. member for Kootenay--Columbia, because the work of authors and creators must be protected, and this is an essential value. Ephemeral recordings can indeed turn out to be permanent, and if this is the case, the authors will not be paid for their work. Therefore, ephemeral production rights are already an exception to copyright. I would call upon hon. members to become more aware of this issue.

This motion is not votable, as we know. It was, however, important to the Bloc Quebecois that we contribute our view to today's debate, in order to allow our creative artists to earn a decent living and to ensure that they gain as much as possible from their creative work.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 431 put forward by my colleague from Kootenay--Columbia. The motion reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should draft legislation deleting sections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act.

My interest is always piqued when business of the House affects copyright. As I have said before, I am someone who has had the joy of receiving a royalty payment and I also believe I am the only member of the House who has made a living writing plays, so when Motion No. 431 came across my desk, I was interested.

Having read the motion many times, I could not understand what the motion intended to do. No offence is meant to my colleague, but I try to frame my writing so as to be understandable in at least one of the official languages. The way the motion is written, it is hard to know what it says.

Was it a motion that condemned proposed increases in the copyright levy on blank recordable material? I am opposed to the size of the proposed increases because I believe the amount is excessive and may erode public support for the all important copyright payments to creators. No, if that were the case it would read something like “That, in the opinion of this House, the proposed increase in the copyright tariff currently before the Copyright Board is excessive”. I would be happy to rise today to support that motion, but Motion No. 431 reads nothing like that.

I pulled out the Copyright Act and tried to figure out what my friend from Kootenay--Columbia was talking about. I had my assistant call the member to get a better understanding of what he meant in the motion and I thank my friend for his kind explanations.

Section 30 of the Copyright Act deals with ephemeral recordings, a phrase that basically means recordings made for later broadcast but do not go directly to broadcast. Technically it is a breach of copyright to transfer a recording from one medium to another, just as it is a breach of copyright to photocopy a book or an article from a magazine. Section 30 outlines the circumstances when these ephemeral recordings are allowed without the express permission of the copyright holder, including what records are required, how long these recordings may be kept and so on.

Subsections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) say that when a licence is available from the collective society of the specific individual copyright holder, then the other rules of section 30 do not apply and the licence fee applied by the copyright society takes precedence.

There have recently been testimonies before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage from private radio stations on the effect of these sections. They said that the sections amount to a loophole in the law which is being used by some of the copyright collectives to charge radio stations a royalty to transfer the recording to a medium from which it can be broadcast, the ephemeral recording, and then another royalty to broadcast the recording. They complain that they are paying a royalty twice to broadcast a song once. I suggest that Motion No. 431 really means that in the opinion of this House, radio stations should only have to pay once for the use of a recording for broadcast, regardless of how many times the recording must be transferred to a different medium to prepare for the single broadcast.

The concept is something I actually endorse. New Democrats support fair taxation, not double taxation. There are a few caveats I would like to put on the record on which my support is conditional.

The first is that the basic framework of the copyright collective is a concept we should all be supporting. There are many who use these organizations as the target for every economic ill in the copyright world. I think that the biggest step forward that has been made in our copyright laws has been the establishment and support of copyright collectives. These collectives are critical for the future of Canadian creators. After all, artists have little to no support in this country. If we look at real dollar expenditures in Canada over the last decade, government support for the arts and for artists is still at a lower level than it was under Brian Mulroney.

This lack of public support has made artists rely more and more on that little copyright cheque. Remember that the vast majority of Canadian creators make less than $20,000 a year, so these collectives are important to them because they are basically poor. Poor people cannot enforce their rights in our society by themselves.

Artists are not going to get legal aid to sue the local radio station or the local kid with an MP3 player for copyright infringement. Without copyright collectives, artists would be unable to enforce their rights, collect any revenue for the use of their work, or effectively negotiate with the huge media interests that primarily use their work to make a profit.

Another part of the Copyright Act I want to be on record as supporting are the sections that allow for private copying of music with the condition that creators are compensated through a small levy on the sale of blank material. I said earlier that I opposed the size of the proposed increase to the blank medium levy, but I oppose it because I worry that a 100% increase in the levy will erode public support for the whole levy system.

Frankly, I want to comment on the fact that the government and the collectives have done an abysmal job explaining the copyright system to the public. All I hear from my constituents is that they know the price of blank CDs is increasing and they are angry about it. No one is attempting to explain to consumers that the money collected by the levy goes directly to composers and performers. No one is explaining that the reason it is legal to make these private copies in Canada is that there is a levy to offset the loss in revenue to creators from private copying.

The government and the collectives, both of whom seem to have lots of money for private jets for the Prime Minister or in the case of SOCAN for meetings in the best private clubs in town, should be spending a small amount of their administrative costs on letting the public know how our copyright system actually works.

Canadians understand that the creators need to be paid for their work. They want to pay creators and performers for their work. They are suspicious of the current system because we live in a country with a history of hidden taxes and comparatively secret and wealthy organizations that only speak through their lawyers. This past behaviour has led the public to be suspicious of the whole public sector and copyright is not immune to this suspicion. They do not need to be suspicious and if the government and the collectives put some effort into public education, then they would not be.

I thank my friend for moving the motion. I hope that this debate contributes to a stronger copyright system.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I intend to speak briefly on this matter. The comments made by the previous speaker are very appropriate, particularly when they are coming from somebody who is directly involved in the issue, who is aware of it, who undoubtedly has been the beneficiary of royalties at times and who perhaps has been questioned many more times about whether she really got her share of royalties. I also happened to have some of my works recorded and I am aware of some of the problems.

Section 30.8 of the Copyright Act deals with ephemeral recordings made for broadcast purposes and when it is not an infringement of copyright to produce them. Subsection 30.8(8) deals with the application of this section and states:

This section does not apply where a licence is available from a collective society to make the fixation or reproduction of the performer's performance, work or sound recording.

Section 30.9 deals with the use of pre-recording for broadcast, again when it is not an infringement of copyright to produce. Subsection 30.9(6) deals with application and states:

This section does not apply if a licence is available from a collective society to reproduce the sound recording, performer's performance or work.

Therefore, removing these two sections would remove the copyright protection inherent in licensing regimes that the exceptions in subsections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) give and would remove the compensation to copyright holders for these recordings.

Many of our artists throughout this great country of ours try to make a living producing their works. Their only hope of gaining benefits from this work is in the royalties that they are paid. If a large broadcasting company is given free rein to pay for a licence to make a recording but is then allowed to re-record and ship to all affiliates, the material could be used, but the producer of the work, the artist or the writer, would only receive royalty on one piece of material or for having it used once. That is extremely unfair and that is something that many are concerned about.

The proposer of the motion, the member for Kootenay--Columbia, in January actually asked the minister with respect to the Copyright Act if subsections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6) allow for royalties to be collected upon transfer of medium, and if not, why not?

The minister responded, and it is very difficult to understand sometimes what is really being said, that subsections 30.8(8) and 30.9(6):

provide that where a collective society can issue a licence to broadcasters for the purpose of reproductions of sound recordings, such as transfer of media, royalties are paid pursuant to the licence.

One of the concerns from the broadcasters' point of view is that if they are to pay royalties by using the material, that is fair ball, but if they have to pay royalties by transfer of recording, whether it be from tape to the different types of digital media that are used, then if they have to pay royalties each time transfers are made it is very unfair to the producers.

It is a complicated issue. The position of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency is that such a recording exemption, removing the two sections in question, will allow broadcasters to cut overhead and staff because they can reduce work by just copying the material and sending it out to the various networks instead of each network having to use the material and produce it for its own purposes. The artists and copyright holders in this case would not be compensated. We also argue that since this practice has value for the broadcasters it requires compensation for the creators also.

During the 2000 federal election our party mentioned that we would introduce new copyright legislation which would serve both the creators of content and the broadcasters and publishers. The former speaker made a very interesting point in relation to this. If the charges become excessive, even though the artist, the original creator, will benefit more it might be a detriment for the use of that material. If the amount a broadcaster or agency that plays or uses material coming from a creator has to pay to exercise the right to use that material is excessive, then of course they will refrain from using it, from playing it on the radio or whatever. The loser in this case is the creator. The former speaker's comment was not exactly that half a loaf is better than none, but that a reasonable charge would make it beneficial for everybody. I think that is what we have to keep in mind when we talk about increasing rates.

The current government has neglected key areas of concern, including the management of the impact of digital media and the Internet on intellectual property rights. Therein are the causes of some of the problems we face. It is important that we ensure that copyright holders are fairly compensated for their work. The provisions in the Copyright Act allow for collective agencies, such as the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency, to collect on behalf of artists, songwriters and composers. It is only reasonable that broadcasters should pay a reasonable fee as compensation for use of an artist's work, but there has to be a happy medium, as I mentioned. We have to be very careful with what we do here because sometimes, as the old saying goes, we can throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is again one of those occasions on which I had not anticipated participating in the debate, but a whole bunch of ideas have come into my mind as I have listened to this riveting debate. We can see that all the members in the House are eagerly participating and are right on the edge of their seats to see whether or not this is something they should support.

An interesting thing has happened. All of us are aware of the fact that if a photocopy is made of a photocopy, et cetera, by about the fourth or fifth generation it is a very poor quality copy. The same thing is true for the old magnetic recording medium. The old reel-to-reels were replaced by smaller cassettes, but if a recording of a recording was made, the quality went down and so on. Four or five copies down the line, the quality was very poor. The amount of copying in that medium was automatically limited because the quality was so poor. Therefore, very few people did it.

With the onset of the digital age, there was a dramatic change. We can make a recording of a recording of a recording. We can do it 100 times in a chain. We can record from the first disc to the second with a computer. Here I am thinking of a CD disc or even the old magnetic discs. The chain is literally endless and the quality remains the same. It is a whole new ball game.

Certainly I am 100% in favour of people who create intellectual property, be it music or computer programs, owning the rights to any profit or any value gained by people buying and using it. Or in the case of copying, the rights should go back to the creator.

I did an interesting experiment way back when. I used to give away my computer programs. I was one of these guys who developed some interesting computer programs, including a word processor program, before Bill Gates was even born. He recognized that it was a valuable thing and marketed it, and look where he is and look where I am. For various reasons I used to give away my programs when I created them. Someone told me that I should sell them and it occurred to me that because copies could be made of copies, it would be good if everybody who owned a copy of my programs would be an automatic salesperson for those programs.

My computer programs all started with a screen that said one of two things could be done. Either the program could run or a copy of it could be made for friends. If the copy option was selected, the screen stated that if the users liked the program they could recommend it and sell it to friends. All I asked was that they send me the royalties for it. I had my address on the screen and I asked for $5 every time a copy was made. My theory was that I would become very rich, because my programs would first be given by me to five or six people and each one would sell them to two or three more and it would go exponentially. It would not be long until a million people would be sending me $5 each and I would not have to work for the rest of my life. It did not happen. I do not know what happened, whether my programs were not up to a valid standard or whether those who copied them just forgot or failed to send in the royalties. Unfortunately, nothing much came of it. I did get some money, but not enough to make me a wealthy person, not by a long stretch.

However, what I want to talk about is that it is true that in the digital world one can make new copies without loss of quality. I am very incensed by the fact that the minister of heritage has brought in this tax.

When I buy blank CDs for use in my computer, or blank tapes for recording different meetings and things like that, I deeply resent it that I have to pay a sin tax. We have the GST, property tax, income tax, and this sin tax. The assumption is I am going to sin by stealing before I ever do and I have to pay the tax. It is a wrong-headed idea.

I agree that artists should be getting value for their work but that is not the way to do it. It should be illegal to steal. We send the wrong message when we say that when people buy a blank medium, they have already paid the royalties by having paid the taxes and therefore they can make a recording and they are off the hook. I do not think that is right or fair. I want to emphasize that.

I want to talk specifically about what the motion addresses. I will use an analogy. With a product such as wine, it would be interesting if we charged the person at the restaurant for the bottle of wine, then when the waiter came along and poured the wine into the glass, the person was charged again. That would not be right. The person is only changing the place where the product is contained.

That is what happens at radio stations. They download a disc onto their computer system so that with their computer controls they can call up instantly any song or selection. They have not made a copy. They have not gained by it. Sure, they have gained a little efficiency, instead of having someone work in the back room looking through the shelves for the disc, or in the old days the vinyl discs, which is how they used to do it. They would have shelves and shelves and shelves of these discs or CDs. They had to be sorted alphabetically or some other way. A person would find the discs, put them into the player and play them one at a time.

That is a very inefficient way of operating, so they download the musical selections into a volatile memory and the selections can be accessed instantly. They have not made any more money. All they have done is poured the wine from the bottle into the glass and now it is being delivered to the user.

Certainly if they use it to duplicate something, then there should be a royalty, no question about it. They should have to pay a royalty if an additional copy is made for whatever reason. If it is sent to another radio station, there should be a royalty attached to it. It is the same thing with respect to the individual copying, MP3 copies and CD to CD copies of music.

We ought to be a society that pays the person who produces the product. The value of that product should remain there.

There is another interesting thing about intellectual property. My family has owned some land for about 65 years. There is no statute of limitations. There is nothing that says that after we have owned it for 65 or 70 years or whatever, it ceases to be ours and anyone else who wants it can have it. Yet this is true with books and music. It is true with drug companies who invent and patent drugs. They invent them and the rules are that they can have the exclusive rights to them for a certain length of time and then it goes into what is called the public domain. I even have some questions about that but that certainly is not the object of this motion.

I would like to support the motion my colleague has put forward. I regret that it is not votable. That is one of the flaws in this place. Every private member's bill or motion should be votable so that we can act on these recommendations and stand up for what we believe ought to be done.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to deal with a few of the remarks and then conclude.

I was interested in the representation by the Bloc Quebecois member. She talked about the legal concept of property and the legitimate right of the artist to earn a living and that the artists have to pay rent.

I do not know how many more times I can say it. I and the Canadian Alliance recognize the property of creators. We want to see that those people are compensated. I do not know how much more clear I can make it.

We are opposed to when there is double compensation for no particularly good reason. She and the member from the Progressive Conservative Party talked about the fact that the broadcasters are going to make savings. Guess what, they are going to create efficiency. They are going to create efficiency by investing in capital, by investing in their operation. When they invest in that operation, they are going to be penalized because they are going to be paying a double royalty.

I ask the question, why were we even considering the exemptions in sections 30.8 and 30.9 if in fact the loophole was that the exemptions were not going to exist unless they were accessed by collectives? Of course collectives are exactly the way that artists manage to collect the money. Therefore, the exemptions do not exist at all.

We must protect those authors and creators she said. I agree with her completely.

The NDP seem to be pretty much on side, but raise the issue, as did my colleague from Elk Island, of the blank recording material. This is a very critical issue. It is coming up on April 22.

For people's information, on under bricks and bouquets which is on the lead page of website, I have a 500 word presentation on the whole issue of recordable material and how in fact when we did the Copyright Act that this was another part of it that was inserted which does create a problem.

Coming back to the motion at hand, my proposition is very simple, that we pay only once for the use of the recorded material, not that we pay twice. It would be once when the recorded material is transferred in medium and then when it actually hits airplay.

With respect to my friend from the Liberal Party, he says that this is premature. Excuse me, it is not premature. On April 22, in less than a week, we will be having this argument in front of the copyright commission. Shortly after that, payments will be required under this flawed legislation. It will not be reviewed until September 22. By his own words he told us that there will not be any changes at least until the following year. So how is this premature?

What is premature is the early taking of unintended fees from the people who are in the business of broadcasting music. He says it is better to settle this issue within section 92. No, I disagree. If the legislation is bad, if the double payment is being required and the double payment is unfair, then this issue should be dealt with right now.

I have lost count but I think it is at least the 10th time I have said that I am in favour of protecting people's creations with respect to copyright. The Canadian Alliance is in favour of protecting that property and seeing that those people are properly compensated when their property is being used.

Make no mistake about it. What I am after with this motion is to change the legislation so that the unintended collection of royalties will not occur. It is just that simple.

I seek the unanimous consent of the House to make the motion votable so that we can actually bring this to a proper debate on the floor of the House.

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to make this item votable?

Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Copyright ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The period provided for consideration of private members' business has now expired. Since the motion has not been selected as a votable item, the item is dropped from the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Copyright ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, not so long ago, I asked a question in the House and I would like to refer to this question. I said, and I quote:

Today L'Acadie nouvelle reported that the Liberals in New Brunswick obtained a document showing that Human Resources Development Canada and the Government of New Brunswick signed an agreement to make retired public servants eligible for employment insurance.

One thousand three hundred public servants from New Brunswick took early retirement and obtained employment insurance benefits at the same time.

I will now quote the response from the minister:

Mr. Speaker, the voluntary early retirement window is a provision that is part of the Employment Insurance program.

This program is available to both public and private employers. It is my understanding that the agreement we have with the province of New Brunswick is being honoured there.

I am not really convinced that this is what the legislation says. As a result, I have gone further. I sent a letter to the Minister of Human Resources Development in which I explained that I do not know much at all about employment insurance, and that I would like it if she could enlighten me regarding which section of the act allows people to take early retirement and claim employment insurance at the same time.

Personally, I do not think this is right. I am anxious to find out whether the parliamentary secretary will be able to enlighten me on this and tell me which section of the act applies. I do not want a song and dance, just the section of the act, so that I can tell the people I know, who are asking me whether, when a company decides to force people to take early retirement, these people are entitled to employment insurance. To my knowledge, this only applies for the government of New Brunswick.

The leader of the Liberal Party is the one who turned this into a scandal in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. He should have contacted his colleague or his federal counterpart before taking such action. It was the leader, Bernard Thériault, who raised this issue in the Parliament of New Brunswick, saying that what the government had done was not right. As well, in his speech to the Legislative Assembly, he said that the provincial government had changed sides and hired other employees to replace those forced into early retirement.

We have an employment insurance plan for people who have lost their jobs, and they cannot even qualify for benefits. In my region, the rate of unemployment is 20% and people cannot even get sufficient benefits to cover the spring gap. People are panicking and do not know what is going to happen in July and next fall.

I am most anxious to hear what the parliamentary secretary has to say about this question I put to the minister, whose answer was that it was in the act. I think that the answer should be simple. I am not asking for a big explanation; I am merely asking which section of the act entitles those who take early retirement to employment insurance, so that all Canadians in the private and public sectors can enjoy the same benefits.

Copyright ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Laval West Québec


Raymonde Folco LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst and I have had many discussions on this. I would just like to clarify the regulations on this, for there are such regulations. I will explain.

This is an employment insurance program to encourage early retirement. It allows workers to draw benefits when they leave their jobs as part of an approved workforce reduction plan implemented by their employer. This is covered by section 51 of the regulations.

Continuing my explanations, all public and private sector employers who plan to downsize can take advantage of this program to encourage early retirement. In early 2000, the province of New Brunswick announced that it would be undertaking workforce reduction and was authorized to take part in this program. The agreement covered eligible employees who left between April 1, 2000 and March 31, 2002.

The employees may therefore apply for EI benefits without penalty when they voluntary leave their job, because they are thus preserving another's job. Those applying for benefits under this provision are subject to the usual eligibility criteria, and the department examines their employment records in order to ensure that they are indeed participants designated for this approved program .

All employees—I repeat for the benefit of the member—from the public and private sectors who work for an employer with a workforce reduction plan that was approved by HRDC are treated the same way.

I would like to inform the member that the government of New Brunswick's workforce reduction plan meets the criteria set out in the EI voluntary early retirement window program. The agreement reached with the government of New Brunswick covered some 1,700 employees who left their jobs in the specified timeframe.

HRDC obtained the necessary information from the government of New Brunswick to determine that its workforce reduction plan met the criteria set out in section 51 of the regulations. Everything seems to indicate that the province of New Brunswick is respecting the terms and conditions of the agreement.

As regards the second part of the member's question, I would like to provide examples of other private companies that decided to take advantage of this program.

For example, in the member's province, there is Alliant Telecom-New Brunswick. For the period from November 2001 to June 2002, HRDC reached an agreement which covers 353 management and non-unionized workers, as well as 337 unionized workers.

Canadian National, across the country, is also eligible. We signed an agreement effective June 2001 to June 2002. It covers 353 management and non-unionized workers, as well as 337 unionized workers.

There is also Noranda Inc. and Brunswick Smelter, where there is an agreement in place for the period from May 2001 to May 2002. This agreement benefited 59 employees in 2001 and will benefit some 35 more in 2002. There are other examples, but I believe that is enough.

Copyright ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like the parliamentary secretary or the Minister of Human Resources Development to telephone the Liberal leader in New Brunswick with this information. I say this because the message which has been given is, first, that what was done was not right, because it was a document that he could not have received. Second, the leader of the Liberal opposition in New Brunswick said that the Government of New Brunswick had hired new employees to take the place of those who had taken early retirement.

In conclusion, therefore, I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary whether her department followed this up and whether it has the information. Was the leader of the Liberal opposition, Bernard Richard, right to say in the legislature that the government had hired more people. Is he right, or is this not the case?

Copyright ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon member for Acadie--Bathurst, I would say that the Government of New Brunswick's workforce reduction plan meets the employment insurance criteria concerning early retirement incentive programs. HRDC obtained from the Government of New Brunswick the necessary information to conclude that its workforce reduction plan met the criteria in section 51 of the regulations, the section referred to by the member.

I therefore conclude that, as far as we are concerned, all indications are that the Province of New Brunswick is in compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Copyright ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.50 p.m.)