House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.


Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I come to this discussion on the proposed changes to the copyright law from the position of someone who had been in the classroom at one time in his life as a teacher always looking for opportunities to make the learning process relevant to those who were eager to get out of his class. In so doing, I and many of my colleagues used all the resources available to us. That meant going to those who make it their life's work to create new experiences. In the creation of those experiences, they have the right to profit from their genius, creativity and, indeed, the efforts of many who commercialize that creativity.

As a classroom teacher, I availed myself of many with that creativity. It was not always somebody who had the greatest piece of art or the greatest creation of an artifact or even someone who had written the greatest book. Sometimes it went so far, believe it or not, as picking a column out of a newspaper and giving people an opportunity to address all of the issues raised, how they were raised and how they should be addressed. In so doing, we actually photocopied some of these things and distributed them.

Now we are talking about an archaic age in communication. The consumption is still the same. Today we are in a digital age and Bill C-32 is an attempt for Canada to catch up to the digital age, not to enter into it. If one were to speak with young people, such as the pages in the House, they are experts and maybe we should have them stand up here and address these issues. We would learn a lot more from them than we are going to learn from members of Parliament.

We are good at identifying what the problems are, but they will give us the solutions. Why will they give us the solutions? It is because they have grown up and lived with the technology that we say is the new digital age. They are addressing the same problems that I addressed when I was a classroom teacher. High school students were always looking for a way to do something else because it is the nature of the age in that chronological part of our lives to be inquisitive, to look for solutions, to look for ways out, to look for alternatives.

When someone is a creator, the first thing we do is ask what we learn from that. Whether one admits it or not, that is really what one does. Teachers used to do that and maybe some university professors still do that. What we try to do is avail ourselves of the creativity of others. We do that in the classroom. We also do it in the arts industries, primarily music and the graphic arts industries.

Today, the digital age in which we find ourselves has made it much more easy and speedier to avail ourselves of somebody else's creativity. That is good, but in so doing we have been running the risk of eliminating the creator's right to profit from that creativity.

We know that modernizing Canada's copyright law is an absolute necessity. We have to catch up. Changes to the copyright legislation may also have to protect the rights of consumers. If we think for a moment about the example I gave, which is a personal example and I hope everyone will forgive me for it, the cost to educate the next generation of Canadians will be astronomical if every one of the classroom practitioners were to respect the letter of the law that prohibits a photocopy, or in this case, a file share. The cost would be horrendous. It is a question of balancing the commercial cost and commercial benefits.

Bill C-32 appears to meet some of these challenges. One should not always say that an initiative is negative simply because the Conservatives raised it. That would be the safe thing to do, but the bill risks being undermined due to some of the provisions dealing with digital locks and the technological protection measures, which some of my other colleagues have referred to as TPMs.

It seems a contradiction to say that a person could fairly use copyrighted items for certain purposes, but that the manner used to obtain them would be illegal. That is true. We need to clarify what we mean by that, otherwise we will be spinning around in circles over and over again. The moment we put the legislation in place, someone will find a vehicle, an avenue or a way to get out.

If Canadians have legitimately purchased a CD, DVD or other product, they should have the right to use that medium or any other device as long as it is not for commercial gain, because the commercial gain is resident in the person, persons or company that actually created whatever it is that is going to be used or shared.

It would be a waste of taxpayers' money and a betrayal of the public trust if Canadians, and I am now specifically talking about young Canadians, were fined or charged because they wanted to watch a movie they purchased on a DVD. We get into a situation where we are going to criminalize many people who are taking some things for granted because we have never really said that such activities are or are not legitimate. We have not identified that we would infringe on the legitimization of those items.

Other groups have expressed these concerns too. It is not just those of us who have been teachers, are teachers, or who are parents of a teenager, whose hair will grow my colour; other groups have expressed concerns as well.

The Quebec bar association, for example, in a letter to the ministers of heritage and industry states that the bill is severely flawed. I do not know why it is that we as parliamentarians constantly conjure up solutions that are so deeply flawed that people who deal with this every day see the holes in it immediately. We do not come here and extol the virtues of actually doing something. Specifically regarding Bill C-32 bar association officials say first of all that it does not meet Canada's international obligations as it goes against the three-step test before granting exceptions without remuneration to rights holders.

Think what that means for a moment. It really suggests that people have not done their homework in terms of what it is that has to be done. International bodies have a particular test and we do not meet it. We have not done that elementary homework. They also say it raises problems of coherence with international and provincial legal text and is ambiguous in the treatment of the responsibility of Internet service providers.

Now we have the medium, but those who activate the medium or who make it possible for all of the creators to get on the medium are also liable. This legislation does not address their liability and their responsibilities accurately, currently and effectively enough. That is from a bar association. I am assuming its officials had to talk to some consumers and experts in the use of the Internet either for file sharing, for pleasure, for education, or for the conduct of business. As I said, they probably did not talk to some of the young people who are in this House.

It introduces legal uncertainty, and whenever we introduce legal uncertainty, we are encouraging litigation. As a piece of legislation, this body representing lawyers is saying that it is good for the lawyers because if this bill is passed, there will be more people knocking on lawyers' doors. We will hear the sound of cash registers. Well, nobody uses cash registers any more; that is another archaic reference.

It reminds me of my own dad who wanted me to become a lawyer. There were at that time 4,000 lawyers in the province of Ontario. I think there are now 26,000, so my dad would have been right. He would have said, “Even if my son is not very good, look at all the market that is out there looking for bad lawyers”. It has increased from 4,000 to 26,000. Everybody is going to keep going ka-ching, as my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso said.

Those lawyers are honest enough. I realize some people would like to play with that, but those lawyers and those law associations are honest enough to say, “Pass the bill as it is and make us richer”, because that is what we will encourage, litigation. It creates exemptions, they go on to say, that depend on conditions that are either unrealistic or impossible to verify. They speak about the amounts of moneys and energies that will have to be consumed in order to bring some of these items to a forum where litigation is the order of the day. Can we avoid that? They are telling us to.

It introduces a dangerously imprecise concept of education that I talked about a few moments ago, and fair dealing, because according to the bar association, one can expect several cases of litigation, given the way the bill is written, on education alone. My principal, before I became one, said to me, “Do not go copying any of this stuff. Do not go distributing it to students. Do not do this. Do not do that”. “I have got a piece of chalk and a blackboard. Is that the way you want me to conduct my teaching?” “Well, we cannot afford to get sued.” I would not get sued if I referred to a book. However, if I copy a page out of the book, I am in trouble. If I want my students to have something physically in front of them, how do I overcome this liability that I will incur the moment I stand up in front of the class and say, “Hey, isn't this really great? You know that guy; he had great ideas, and let us take a look at it” and go on from there. I am not going into pedagogy, because it was boring then and it is boring today.

My point is that education is still the same process. It is still the same. The media and the techniques may vary, and we cannot expose today's teachers to litigation or potential for same. That same bar association says it negates the collective exercise of copyright and favours individual litigation through impractical and unrealistic remedies. So thank goodness we have members of Parliament who can read, because we actually read this material. Now we are looking at this proposed legislation in the context of some expertise from the legal side, but not from the technical side just yet.

The legal side says here is the ultimate test of unfairness. It removes remuneration from rights holders, thereby ruining the existing equilibrium between creators and users of protected material, contrary to the very objectives of the law. Certainly, if we want to make good legislation, we have to think that the legislation we propose and pass in this House has to meet that first test of balance so that it is fair for you, Madam Speaker, it is fair for me and it is fair for all those who come in between or who depend on us. It may not be the absolute thing, but at least it has to be a balance. It cannot be too much of one or too much of the other.

One can see that the bill tries to fix a problem introduced in and by the digital age, but we have been in this age for decades. As I said, these young pages were born in the digital age; they know no other. Yet here we are. We are trying to find a system that adequately compensates artists, because that is a word we have not used often in our debate so far. We have talked about creators, but really, they are artists, because that is the difference between a creator and someone who practises what has already been created. If somebody is artistic, it goes beyond the genius of a simple mathematical or scientific solution.

If we are going to find a system that adequately compensates these artists while recognizing the realities of the current world, this bill cannot be judged to work, and it will not work in the long term because that balance is gone.

The bill ignores the fact that people share files all the time. Ask any high school student, any university student, and we will receive a lesson, as I do all the time, on the latest file sharing techniques. There is always somebody out there who is smarter than the next person, and the moment one solution is imposed, somebody finds a different way to get around it.

The Conservative government aided in the creation of this file sharing culture. We might think this is good. Sure. But by not stepping in at the outset, the Conservatives implied that while file sharing might not necessarily be legal, there is no consequence to file sharing illegally. In other words, there is no consequence. No law is being broken if no law is being enforced.

There are people who are obviously interested. We have the advantage of these new technologies. A constituent of mine is following the debate today and says that it would be like a Brink's truck crashing and having all the cash fall out. At first nobody does anything, but eventually someone goes and picks up a bundle of cash, looks around, and there are no police officers. Other people show up. They pick up another bundle of cash. What do you do? You call the police. Of course that is the right thing to do, to try to enforce something. Meanwhile, a lot of people have walked away with a lot of cash.

That is why the government is implicitly culpable in the circumstances it is trying to address today. It has done very little to address the problems of the digital age when it comes to protecting the rights of artists and creators and balancing the rights of consumers and learners.

We need to create new business models not only as a government, but we need to engage industry so that it can provide those new models for us. Government needs to work with them as we move in a satisfactory direction.

Is there any example out there that we might use? The Apple iTunes that some people engage in, the 99¢ songs, is one example of the industry reacting in a positive way. I note that there are a lot of others. These ideas must also be encouraged.

Some of my colleagues have talked about mashups, statutory damages, public exhibition of arts, resale of arts, recordings, et cetera. These are the items that some of the stakeholders raised, some who have visited me in my riding office and some who have lobbied. There is a word that is not always a legitimate word to use in anything, but they have lobbied members of Parliament from all parties to give them a sense of what is involved, to give them an education about the best way to handle these problems as proposed by Bill C-32.

As a member who has been here for some time, I am constantly impressed by individuals who come with the infusion of a new idea and want to be able to resolve this. I listen to them as all members in this House of Commons tend to do and should do. I often wonder why it is that the government does not follow the same thing. It is a tried and true road to success. The government needs to listen to the people who are creators, listen to the people who are artist creators, listen to the distributors, listen to those who commercialize and manufacture, listen to the consumers, listen to the experts on the material and listen, as I have tried to do, to those who have a legal framework into which we place all of it.

All of this is to say that if we are going to have to support an initiative of this nature we need to give it more careful study, and we are going to study this more carefully.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I greatly appreciate the comments by my colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence. We have to realize that Bill C-32 is basically the third attempt to update Canada's copyright laws in the last six years.

The legislation has remained untouched since 1997, and the Liberal government attempted to update the legislation in the dying days of the Paul Martin regime with Bill C-60. Therefore this is a similar type of bill.

The Conservative government introduced Bill C-61 nearly two years ago but had to withdraw the bill in the face of widespread criticism that it was too cumbersome and too closely modelled on the restrictive U.S. DMCA, the digital millennium copyright act.

At first glance, Bill C-32 appears to strike a balance between corporate and consumer interests. However, my colleagues on the NDP side and, from what I can understand, also my Liberal colleagues are raising some concerns with respect to whether or not the bill actually does what it should be doing. I hope the Liberal members are true to their word with regard to their concerns and when the bill gets to committee they will actually be honest about wanting to change the problematic areas of the bill and will not look at passing a bill that is still going to be defective.

In looking at Bill C-32, we see that it treats breaking of digital locks for personal use the same as if the lock were being broken by commercial counterfeiting. I am trying to get some sense if the member is in agreement with me with regard to whether or not this is politically problematic, as it potentially pits artist groups against students and educational organizations.

I know the member spoke about the education aspect of it and whether we should actually be trying give criminal records to our students. I guess that is the bigger question. Should we be treating our students like criminals?

The member talked about the teachers and whether or not they should be destroying those notes. So again it is the cost to the education process.

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4:05 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope my colleague will forgive me if I was reading while she was also making a comment. The reason I was reading is that a page handed me a faxed sheet from a major employer in the educational field in southern Ontario. The present CEO happens to live in my riding and he said, “I have been watching with great interest the introduction of this bill. It has an enormous impact on our company”. I am summarizing. “We employ some 250 people. In education this would create a serious problem for us, in all of the full range of the materials that we utilize and we sell to school boards and to teachers”.

The member's question is absolutely apropos. It should not be anyone's intention to turn students into criminals, nor should it be anyone's intention to turn teachers into criminals for sharing some of the artistry, the creativity of others, in a learning process.

We need to be able to come up with the definitions that make sense in the real marketplace. We need to come up with the definitions and the legal parameters that make sense from, in this case, the producer's point of view and the consumer's point of view. They both live, economically, in the same environment and we need to strike that appropriate balance.

I think the member can count on members of our caucus to make sure the debate goes in that direction.

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4:10 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, this has been a very worthwhile debate. For anybody who has been following the debate today, I think a number of great points have been brought out. My colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence has on several occasions referred to balance, which is the essence of what is important here.

As taxpayers, it is important that when we look at our education dollars, we can see that a portion of those education dollars need to go to the physical structure, the heat, the lights, the roof overhead, the desks, and the materials that come in, and a portion toward the salaries of the teachers and the administration. Those are all relevant parts of the education dollars.

One per cent of those education dollars goes to the collective licensing for those who create those materials. It is imperative that we protect those writers who create those materials.

What does my colleague see as the cautionary principles or the types of parameters that we will be able to put around this to ensure that the creators are protected, recognized and compensated?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso has put his finger right on it.

School boards, universities and libraries around the country think in terms of what portion of their budget they ought to allocate to the rights of creators and artists. We call those licensing agreements for legal purposes and those licensing agreements must carry a particular value. They permit anybody in that educational library or information dissemination industry to share that creation and, when they do, they think in terms of the obvious limits. They constantly upgrade their product.

We can see that it would be unrealistic, let us say a generation ago, to buy a textbook, seal it in Saran wrap or some such other thing, give it to someone and say, “I give it only to you. Once you have taken off that wrap, then it belongs to you. You cannot give it to anybody else. If you share your book with another student, the book self-immolates, it burns”.

That is essentially what we are asking these digital locks to do, which is to prevent somebody from actually opening that book. When people open it, they will actually read it and consume it. Whether the individual is standing or sitting beside them as they read this book or whether we send it to them and say that they can borrow the book for a week, it is the same concept.

As my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso has so rightly pointed out, we may need to revisit some of these licensing agreements as the infrastructure for the digital lock problem from the point of view of educational institutions.

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4:10 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government has been arguing that it has to follow the United States model because of the WIPO, World Intellectual Property Organization, Internet treaties. However, the reality is that of the 88 states in the world that have ratified the WIPO Internet treaties, fewer than half of them have actually adopted the U.S. model.

Why is the government attempting to steadfastly follow the American model when only half of the 88 countries that have ratified the treaties have in fact followed the American model? Could it have something to do with the entertainment lobbyists in the United States, the recording studios and maybe even the United States politicians themselves having influence on the Conservative government?

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4:15 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I would enjoy the opportunity to engage in some mirthful repartee here but the member is asking me to attempt to justify the government's positioning and thinking on this. I always find that a difficult exercise, not being a Conservative by demeanour and certainly not being so by ideology.

A strict fact of life that my colleague will know is that the creative community is no longer completely, almost homogenously, contained in the United States. It is a very creative environment but it is not exclusively so. There is great competition in the many states of Europe and even more in the emerging and increasingly commercialized China, India and Southeast Asia.

One might say that we are doing great damage to those countries in Latin America and South America that have their own creative geniuses that we have not recognized. Many of them are also engaged in producing creations that have a trans-world application. Why the government seems to follow singularly and exclusively an American model is beyond me. There are other people who have—

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4:15 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

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4:15 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I was really enjoying what my colleague had to say and it is unfortunate that he ran out of time.

I am glad to join in this debate and add my thoughts on an important issue for Canada and for Canadians. The effects of this legislation, if it becomes law, will be felt throughout our economy and society. Therefore, it is important for us to ensure that Bill C-32 lives up to its billing as a balanced Copyright Act.

I am certain that all of us in this place have a desire to get it right this time since it is the third time in five years that Canada has tried to modernize its Copyright Act. Not even the Liberals before that could get it right. It is something we promised to do when we signed on to the WIPO treaties in 1997. Again, WIPO stands for World Intellectual Property Organization. This is an issue with a lot of stakeholders. It might be tempting to look at it as a debate over the rights to one specific item, like music, but that is too simplistic.

Music is a useful example because it shows us many of the ways this legislation will be tested, but there are arts communities, educators, students, corporations, technological innovators, entrepreneurs, a vigorous open source community and nearly every Canadian involved in his or her role as a consumer that need to be considered too. That is not a complete list but it shows us how many diverse and, in some cases, opposing opinions need to be considered when we talk about the modernization of Canada's copyright laws.

It is easy to see why we need to do this. The technology available today has made our existing laws almost obsolete. The laws we have are suitable for another era. The last time we updated them, computers did not have the ability to hold much information. The Internet was still new, slow and not as diverse or complex. There was not a reliable or standard format for digital music beyond the CD. It was a time when a lot of us still had cassette players and some of us still had eight-track players in our cars. That was only 13 years ago. Let us fast forward now.

Now in 2010, we can see people using public transit watching a television program from the night before on electronic devices no bigger than a cassette tape. We see others listening to music on digital devices that can hold hundreds of songs. It is clear that the memory capacity of these devices has improved considerably compared to the cassette tapes we listened to 13 years ago. It is also clear that advances in digital technology have already gone beyond the scope of the existing version of the Copyright Act.

As I have mentioned, this is not the first attempt by the government to update the Copyright Act. Canada needs to be brought in line with advances in both technology and current international standards. The issue is not simple and yet it must addressed since it is at the heart of Canada's ability to be a competitive player in our increasingly technologically-defined world.

Ever since Canada signed the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties, we have been on a collision course with the revamping of our existing laws. It is our commitment.

While it is important to protect the rights of the biggest players in the industry, such as movie studios, record labels, gaming and software companies and the like, it is also important to protect the individual artists, educators and consumers. We need to recognize the way in which people choose to consume copyrighted work and to have legislation that reflects this.

As we saw from the American prosecution of Napster, using the courts to fill in gaps in existing laws can become a bit like a game of WHAC-A-MOLE. We learned from that experience that the desires of the consumer will not conform to approval formats. If we close down Napster what happens? We get different file-sharing sites. I can see how this would drive some stakeholders crazy but it also illustrates how every battle won may not have a happy ending and that emerging technology can have the ability to expose loopholes in copyright legislation.

New Democrats are happy to be having this debate and see in Bill C-32 some good measures along with some that need improving. It is our hope that we will be able to roll up our sleeves and make the fixes that will allow this legislation to ultimately pass.

For many people, the sticking point in Bill C-32 is the overarching power given to digital locks. Copyright activist, Russell McOrmond. says:

All of the comparatively positive aspects of the bill are nullified by the legal protection of technological measures, including by allowing these all too often abused technologies to supersede and effectively replace the rest of the Copyright Act.

Digital locks exist. It is a phenomenon that has been accepted in some things and not others. People buy and use locked items now, such as video games, DVDs, software and so on. They are not really the issue. It is the legal power they will have and how that power is greater than it needs to be that is the issue.

This update treats the breaking of digital locks for personal use the same as if the lock were being broken for commercial counterfeiting. We do not do that in other areas. We do not treat a first-time shoplifter the way we do a bank robber. Why should we penalize a kid posting a mashup on YouTube that uses previously locked material the same way we would a real video pirate?

It was hoped that Canada would not go as far as the United States has with its digital millennium copyright act. We see in the United States a desire to criminalize the consumer and exact punishing fines that is too heavy-handed. We have concerns about emulating too much of the American position when it might not be necessary.

In the long debate leading up to this current update, we heard that Canadian musicians and songwriters reject lawsuits against individuals as a way to protect their material. They did not want to bring new meaning to Joe Strummer's Jail Guitar Doors. In fact, there are some musicians who see little value in trying to sell their work. A lot of artists in Canada release their own music online for free. They might use a Creative Commons licence to do this.

If the music is shared for free by others, with the owner's permission to do so, would it still be legal? I would be interested in hearing the answer to this question, since it will have an effect on the legitimate business practice.

For the artists who use a Creative Common licence, they see their products as advertising and a way to get people out to their shows. The new reality in the music business is that the money is to be found at the box office and not in the record store.

This update goes some of the way toward distancing Canada from the kinds of fines we have seen in the U.S. for consumers who download copyright material. The government tells us that it does not want to punish individual users. It wants to focus its deterrence and enforcement efforts on distributors and large websites that illegally host copyrighted content.

The fact remains that provisions in the legislation, especially the power given to digital locks, can lead to prosecution. Fines might be reduced from a maximum of $20,000 per copyrighted work to a one-time maximum penalty of $5,000 in situations in which copyrighted works have been illegally accessed for non-commercial purposes, but there are a lot of ways this can be interpreted.

We need to ensure the law does not prescribe excessive force when it is not needed. This update creates new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act, including exceptions for educators and exceptions for parody and satire for which Canadian artists have asked.

For educators, it is problematic. They will have to determine what these exceptions mean for materials used in the classroom. We have heard this on a number of occasions today with respect to educators.

There are also new regulations for materials distributed for distance learning and a requirement to destroy those copyrighted materials 30 days after the class has ended. One would have to get another copy to go back and re-read something. This will not make sense to many Canadians. It runs counter to most of our experiences.

Truth be told, there is more in the bill than I could cover in the time allotted to me. For example, there is a section that deals with those who do cover work. For a performer who makes a living by interpreting someone else's work, this is an important consideration as it is for the artist who has created the work on which the performance is based. Still, I would hope this does not extend to the average garage band that might make a few bucks here and there and basically learn the ropes by playing other people's songs. It would be something like charging a kid in minor hockey for emulating an NHL player's moves on a breakaway. Again, it would go against what Canadians would see as being both right and fair.

I will focus on the larger issues and leave the fine details to the work of the committee. I have outlined one already with respect to the power given to digital locks, and I will explore one more.

The bill effectively would end the copying levy on blank media by not including music-playing devices like iPods as the natural next in line to older forms that were taxed, such as CDs and cassette tapes. The legislation would end an important revenue stream for artists and would ignore the way that technology has changed, the very thing the bill is supposed to do.

On that note, I am sure that many of my colleagues here have been lobbied by some of these artists who have indicated that this is an important part of their ability to continue to be an artist and get a little revenue for what they have done. The exclusion of this provision sends the wrong message. We are really missing the mark if we do not include some kind of compensation to recognize the way these devices are used and the way that music, ebooks and other forms of digital art are shared. Without such a measure, we are cutting artists out of the mix and ignoring the reality and purpose of the current technology. We did not do that for previous forms of blank media. I ask the government this. What is so different about things like iPods?

If we want to hear an authoritative voice on this subject, we can listen to my colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay. He is both a recording musician as well as an author and knows a thing or two about copyright from the perspective of an artist. Recently he was a featured guest at an American conference discussing the issues of the digital culture and the music industry.

To give members and idea of the importance of this event, T Bone Burnett addressed the same audience. Mr. Burnett also knows a thing or two about the music business. A musician and fabulous producer, he has worked with notable Canadians, like k.d. Lang and Bruce Cockburn, as well as international stars like Elvis Costello.

He has been nominated for an Academy Award for his work on film scores and is active in the search for a better way to present digital music than the current formats that are dramatically less responsive than the album format we have largely abandoned.

All this to say, the member for Timmins—James Bay, one of my colleagues from the northern team, is in good company as a stakeholder in this debate. The member has this to say about extending the blank media levy to the new music playing devices, “In a world of endless downloading, we need to provide a monetizing stream for artists...the levy is compensating artists for some of the enormous amount of copying that is taking place”.

It is fair to say that the New Democratic Party's position on copyright is based on the principles of compensation and access. It reflects our belief that artists need to be paid for their work and consumers should be able to access these works with the least amount of restrictions.

I want to go back and quote a few things from Dr. Jeremy de Beer. He raised this issue in his study of Bill C-61, of which Bill C-32 is a re-enactment. He stated that the digital rights provisions were:

—a poorly veiled attempt by the Government to strengthen the contractual rights available to copyright owners, in the guise of copyright reform and the implementation of Canada’s international obligations. Future iterations of Bill C-61 that do not take the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (and the overall scheme of the Act) into account would also likely to fail constitutional scrutiny.

There is some grave concern with respect to the constitutional scrutiny that the bill would actually have in place.

The copyright reform must be based on a willingness to work collaboratively to amend the many outstanding problems with the legislation.

As I have indicated, this is the third time there has been an attempt to update Canada's copyright laws in the last six years. The Liberals could not get it done with Bill C-60. The Conservatives could not get it done with Bill C-61. We hope that with Bill C-32 people will want to work together to address the problematic areas in the bill in order to ensure artists have legislation that will work.

We will see the bill through to committee with the hope that it can be improved so it will reflect the belief and be able to give Canadian copyright law the update it really needs.

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4:30 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I think people watching at home are very surprised to hear that Bill C-32 would require teachers and students to destroy digital lessons 30 days after the course concludes. That will be a big surprise to a lot of people. In addition, Bill C-32 would require librarians to ensure that intra-library digital loans self-destruct within five days of first use.

Could the member confirm that this is the case with Bill C-32 and does she think that is fair?

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4:30 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. People have a reason to worry about what the legislation would do if it was unamended.

The fact is we do not want to treat them like criminals. We want to ensure they will not be charged. We want to also ensure they have access to the materials that foster the future of our country, which is our young people. It does not make any sense to instill penalties on the work or the tools that they need to do the job.

As far as I am concerned, these areas really need to be amended. I hope the government side will see fit to make those necessary changes.

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4:35 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing a civilized question.

I listened to my colleague's speech. She was very courteous. She has listened to everybody else's debate in the House. I thought she had some very good insights.

Her concern centred specifically around the one provision about locked in measures that would prevail, whether we were talking about video games, or information of great value or creative pieces.

She has indicated that her party will support the bill at second reading. I did not hear anybody say that before. I deduced that from her suggestion the bill would be scrutinized at committee and the only way it could get there was if someone supported its passage and direction to committee.

That seemed to me to go a bit beyond saying that this was a really bad bill that should be eliminated on the floor of the House at second reading. The other position is that it is really bad but we should send it off to committee in an environment where coalitions develop. The government is always looking for a coalition partner. Perhaps it will find somebody on committee to support it.

Did I hear that correctly? Does she really want some co-operation in committee to effect a bill that actually makes sense other than this one?

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4:35 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not the only member of the New Democratic Party who has indicated we are willing to move the bill to committee so we can look at the problematic areas. My colleague has also indicated that his party was willing to work with it as well.

He also mentioned a coalition, which surprises me. People are getting a little tired of hearing the government side always referring to the coalition. There is no bigger coalition than the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals either vote in favour of what the government does and gives it the majority it needs, or they do not show up to vote. Then they turn around and say that they voted against it, but in the meantime they sent some members out the chamber.

I want to talk about the digital locks. The digital lock provisions in the bill make a mockery of any claims of balance. The government claims to be providing new exemptions and rights, fair dealing of educational uses, reproduction for private purposes, making backup copies, copying rights for the printed disabled and the so-called YouTube mashup provision. If there is a digital lock in place, an individual will be criminalized if he or she tries to use these rights. These sections need to be fix.

Proposed section 41 lays out technological protection measures, which supersede the rights of citizens who would normally be able to enjoy the non-digital realm. Bill C-32 offers rights that the consumer will not be able to exercise.

It is quite important to see what is in the bill and what needs to be changed. The government is creating a two-tier level of rights between digital and non-digital products instead of legal certainty. Canadian citizens will face arbitrary limitations on their legal rights to access.

As I have indicated, the NDP is supportive of moving this bill to committee. The committee will then decide on what amendments to make to it. The seriousness of this is whether or not the Liberals and the Conservatives are willing to work at fixing the problematic areas to ensure that educators, students and some of the artists are not made criminals.

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4:40 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member.

The Conservatives have indicated that they are forced to, in effect, follow the American approach to the WIPO Internet treaties and the digital locks by virtue of the fact that they have signed the treaties. The fact of the matter is that 88 states in the world have actually ratified the WIPO treaties, with only half of them actually supporting the American approach.

The question I have for the member is whether she believes that perhaps the government is being overly influenced by the American movie lobby and business lobby, and perhaps even American politicians, to get their version of what should be a proper agreement in force in Canada.

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4:40 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, it is evident that we should be following the WIPO approach.

Certainly we can look at some of the language that is in there, but does Canada have a plan to review new exceptions every three years? The answer is no.

The U.S. DMCA experience leaves little doubt that the introduction of anti-circumvention legislation will create some unintended consequences. No matter how long the list of circumvention rights and other precautionary measures, it is impossible to identify all future concerns associated with anti-circumvention legislation.

So they are committed to looking at it every three years. It does not appear to be in the plan of the government.

I thank the member for the question.

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November 2nd, 2010 / 4:40 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-32. I listened to a lot of very good presentations today regarding this very important bill.

At the outset I would like to say, following up on the previous member who spoke and the NDP critic who spoke to the bill this morning, that members of the NDP will certainly be supporting this bill going to committee. We support it in principle. It is a outstanding issue that has to be dealt with by Parliament.

In many ways, I hope it follows the route of Bill C-11, the immigration bill, which basically proved to be successful at the end of the day with the help of all four parties in the House. We have the potential to follow that route with this bill. Some of the concerns that were raised today by the NDP critic in debate were responded to by the minister of the government.

It appears to me that there certainly seems to be an interest on the government's part in working with the NDP critic and our party, and I believe, the other parties as well, to try to work out perhaps even an all-party agreement on this legislation. I really do not feel that we are that far apart.

Speaker after speaker has concentrated on really, more or less, the same issues. Some issues were not addressed, but by and large, the same issues came up over and over again. So it is incumbent upon the government in committee to resolve those issues, and perhaps before Christmas, Parliament will have a second successful bill as opposed to having it end up not going anywhere.

The government has certainly had ample experience over the last five years with bills it proposed going nowhere because it is in a minority situation and knows that all it takes is for it to bring forward a bill that the opposition does not agree with and the bill will not be successful. That is really the end of its effort.

I recognize that we have only 20 minutes to discuss this matter and I do not know that it will be sufficient. Nevertheless I want to deal with some of the issues involving Bill C-32.

Canada's technological community has long been calling for a major overhaul of the Copyright Act to bring fair and balanced copyright legislation to this country. The act has not been reviewed since 1997. I think back to those days 13 years ago and realize how the technologies have changed during that period. It is tremendous.

John Manley was the minister and Jean Chrétien was the prime minister in a majority government. How and why the Liberal government of the day, a sort of command style government with an absolute majority, could not get this job done seems a bit surprising to me. Nevertheless it did not do it. That might be indicative of how controversial it actually is and how many players are involved.

I recall a number of years ago, in 2000, when I was involved in putting together Bill 31 in Manitoba, the province's Electronic Commerce and Information Act. That was internal to the government. We had to sit down with four or five government departments that were dealing with electronic issues. The Uniform Law Conference had a template that we could follow. Just trying to get those silos, those departments within a provincial government, onside proved to be fairly difficult, although we did get the job done.

In this case, it goes way beyond the government, because we are dealing with many competing forces within the country itself. The Liberal critic pointed out this morning how substantial this area is in Canada in terms of jobs and employment and the large part of the economy that is involved.

The Conservatives' copyright modernization act seeks to enact long overdue changes that would bring Canada in line with advances in technology and current international standards. At the rate we are going and with the technology changing, we are never going to catch up unless we get this job done now.

The issue is highly complex. It features competing demands from stakeholders and the artistic, academic, business, technology, consumer rights and communities. We have heard conflicting views from a number of them even today. However, it is a top priority and a multi-faceted issue that the government must take on if it wants Canada to be a competitive player in our increasingly technology-reliant world.

When Canada signed onto the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, Internet treaties in 1997, 13 years ago, it committed then to modernize its copyright legislation. Before Bill C-32, two other attempts were made to enact legislation that would achieve the goal, most notably in 2008 when the Conservative government brought forward Bill C-61 and that bill was met with widespread opposition. It died when Parliament prorogued in 2008.

Bill C-32 is designed to be technology neutral, which is a very good way to deal with it, because if we do not do that we will be dealing with technology referencing typewriters or old technology from many years past. Taken forward to the future, 20 years from now people will not be understanding the type of technology that we are dealing with in the bill right now. So we have gone to a technology-neutral position that applies across a broad range of devices and technologies with a view of ensuring adaptability to a constantly evolving technology environment.

During the summer of 2009, as the minister referenced, Industry Canada held a series of nationwide consultations on copyrights, soliciting input from Canadian consumers, industry experts and content developers. During the consultations, the most discussed and most contentious issue was digital rights management, including the digital locks, which has been talked about by many speakers today, anti-circumvention measures and TPMs, or technological protection measures.

User rights advocates made it clear that they wanted to see the government expand the fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act and provide more exceptions for consumers. In Canada, fair dealing as defined by the Copyright Act is more restrictive than the fair use provisions in the United States, particularly with regard to education and teaching. It refers to uses of content that are considered valid defences to copyright infringement, such as for purposes of criticism and review, news reporting or educational use.

While user rights appear to have been taken into some consideration in drafting the bill, Bill C-32 is fairly heavily weighted in favour of the rights of content owners. I reference Sony, Hollywood studios and so on and have asked the question about the influence of the Hollywood lobby, the American political lobby on the Canadian government to come up with a solution that they basically approve of.

The Conservatives laugh and say it has taken six years and obviously they are not responding to any pressure because had they responded to pressure they would have done this a long time ago. What matters here is that the American government and American business interests want to see a piece of legislation that fits in with their legislation, because they see this as a continental market. I have explained before that of the 88 countries that have approved the WIPO Internet agreements, only half of them follow the American model. The other half have a lesser approach than the American system of supporting digital locks.

The government tries to bamboozle us by telling us that we have to give industry the digital lock provisions because we are following the United States, following WIPO.

However, half the countries that have approved and ratified these agreements are not following the digital lock procedures the way the Americans are. Let us understand that from the beginning. We do not have to go holus-bolus, cap in hand, following on the trail of the Americans, contrary to what the government would like us to believe.

The government has stated that its aim in updating the Copyright Act is not to punish individual users, but rather to focus its deterrence and enforcement efforts on distributors and large websites that illegally host copyrighted content. Of course we agree with that. No party in this House wants to be causing grief to the citizens of Canada. There is no question about that at all.

The copyright modernization bill contains three broad categories of changes that Internet and e-commerce law expert Michael Geist termed sector-specific reforms, compromise provisions, and no-compromise rules regarding the DRMs.

The sector-specific reforms are designed to appeal to a wide cross-section of Canadians and include measures that extend the term of copyright for performers and producers to 50 years from the time of publication of a musical performance. They also create a new "making available" right in accordance with the WIPO treaties. This measure will give copyright owners exclusive control over how their content is made available on the Internet.

It also introduces a mandatory review of the Copyright Act, to take place every five years. It is important to have a mandatory review every five years. Even though the bill itself is technologically neutral, things may change in five years, and it is important that we have the ability to require the government to do a review after that point.

Bill C-32's compromise provisions will formally enshrine commonplace grey-area practices that enable users to record TV programs for later viewing, as long as they do not compile a library of recorded content. That is called time-shifting. I know that some people are not going to be happy with this. There are people who like to use their PVRs to copy programs and want to be able to make copies of those and record them. But they are not going to allow people to compile a library of recorded content.

The provisions regarding transferring songs from CDs to MP3 players, called format-shifting, and making backup copies create new limited exceptions to the fair- dealing provision of the Copyright Act. These include exceptions for educators and exceptions for parody and satire, which Canadian artists have been asking for. Bill C-32's compromise provisions will create an exception for content creators that would enable the circumvention of DRMs for the express purpose of reverse engineering for encryption research, security testing, perceptual disability, and software interoperability.

It would also introduce a new YouTube exception that would allow Canadian users to compile clips of copyrighted works into a remix work, as long as it is not created for commercial purposes.

I also want to point out that no one here today has mentioned that this legislation will also give photographers, for the first time, the same rights as other creators. I listened for that all day long and I did not hear anyone mention it. Photographers should be happy, because for the very first time in the history in Canada they will be given the same rights as other creators.

Bill C-32 also creates a new exception for broadcasters to allow them to copy music for their operations.

In addition, it creates a carve-out for network locks on cellphones. This is another one that I think is going to be popular. One of our members actually introduced a bill regarding cellphones, but understand that we are talking about network locks on cellphones. Right now we are stuck with a network when we buy a cellphone. The locks are going to be taken away, and Canadians are going to have the right to unlock their phones. I think people are going to be happy with that if they want to switch carriers, as long as they abide by the providers' contract terms when they make the switch.

There is also a reduction of statutory damages from a maximum fine of $20,000 per copyrighted work to a one-time maximum penalty of $5,000 in situations where copyrighted works have been illegally accessed for non-commercial purposes.

The government touts this reduction of penalties as a progressive, positive change. However, if we read Michael Geist's work, he argues that this is not going to be the effect, that it is not going to work, that we are creating legislation that is going to produce a lot of litigation.

Our critic mentioned that artists have better things to do with their time than hire lawyers. Therefore, the bill is going to be good for lawyers. But if we are talking about little artists who are trying to practise their trade, the last thing they are going to want to do is hire lawyers to track down people who are infringing on their copyrights.

Perhaps we have to take another look at the whole issue of the fines. Perhaps we ought not to think that, because we are reducing fines from $20,000 to $5,000, we have solved the problem. Michael Geist, who is a recognized expert in this area, has made a convincing argument that this is not the case.

Finally, the copyright modernization act contains no-compromise provisions that are likely to have a huge impact on the way Canadians obtain, use, and share copyrighted content. These include measures that create powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners like Sony and other big companies, as distinct from the creators and the developers, that prevent access to copyrighted works on pain of fines of up to $1 million, or five years in jail. This measure is based directly on the United States' controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the DMCA, and that is one of our criticisms of the bill. The government is slavishly following the American model as opposed to following the 88 countries in the world that are not following the American model, that have separated from the American model, and have gone easier on the digital lock issue.

An immediate result of this provision would be to convince the United States, and particularly its powerful entertainment lobby, that this country is in line with U.S. regulations and is an attractive and secure place to conduct business.

I think that is what it is all about with the Conservative government. It wants to convince the Americans that we are a good, safe market, with the same standards that they have, so that they can come and do business with us. Instead of this, the government should be looking out for our citizens.

The foundational principle of the new bill remains that any time a digital lock is used, whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices, the lock trumps all rights. So what is the point of giving people all these rights if we simply take them away by making sure that the digital lock trumps all these new rights?

This means that both the existing fair-dealing rights and Bill C-32's new rights all cease to function effectively so long as rights-holders place a digital lock on their content or device. It would also require that, where a digital lock exists, digital copies made for the purposes of self-study self-destruct within five days, and that course materials be destroyed no later than 30 days after the conclusion of a course. What good is that?

We have had speaker after speaker criticize that provision of the bill.

Perhaps I can deal with the remaining points in the question-and-comments period.

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5 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, there were some good points made in the member for Elmwood—Transcona's presentation. I agree with his point about a failure to act. We do not want to hurt those who create the work in this country. But if we pursue a course of inaction, if we do not adapt our laws and regulations, we will continue to hurt this group. Our singers and songwriters are being disadvantaged right now.

Recently, I saw some comments from Warner Bros. that it now has only half as many Canadian acts signed as it did five years ago, that it is not able to put its money into artist development, and that it is not able to take chances on young up-and-coming artists. A failure to act would have a tremendous negative impact on young artists.

I will speak specifically about writers and authors, those who write and provide content within our school system. There is a great deal of concern about the compromise on the collective licensing; it is feared that there will be no revenue stream for those writers. Only about 10% of the revenue received from the sale of books goes to the authors. They realize a great deal of their own personal income from licensing agreements through the various education ministries.

I think it is imperative that, as legislators, we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater, that we ensure that those people who write, who provide the content, are looked after in this legislation.

I would ask my colleague for his insights and suggestions on how we are going to do this as we go forward with this bill.

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5 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think we have to pass this bill into committee, which I think will happen. Then the committee should take a thorough look at all of the 88 countries that have passed the WIPO Internet treaties to see how they have structured their agreements and legislation. We should contrast this information with how the Americans have structured their legislation around digital locks, because the digital locks seem to be the key to this bill.

Clearly, it is not as the Conservatives say, that we have one option, that we have to follow the American system because that is part of signing the WIPO agreements, that because these digital locks are part of the American system they also have to be part of ours.

We have to take the time to look at Australia and other countries. Half of the countries that have signed the WIPO agreements have legislation different from the American version. The Americans lost that battle; they lost that argument, and rightly so. The world does not have to follow in lockstep with what the Americans want. Just because their industry wants digital locks, that does not mean everybody has to follow suit. Half the countries have not.

So let us look into this in committee and see if there is any way that we can get something that is a little more user-friendly and a little lighter on the lock issue.

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5:05 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I ask my colleague a question, I want to correct something I said a while ago.

I mentioned that the bill being tabled, contrary to the United States legislation, did not have an avenue in place for a mandatory review of the Copyright Act. However, in reviewing the bill, I see that it does have that. It is a five-year as opposed to a three-year, which is what is in the Untied States.

My colleague talked about the digital locks and the importance they would have to artists and students, as well as the impact on someone charged based on this legislation. We certainly do not want to make criminals out of teachers, artists or students.

I want to address a serious problem with this bill regarding the number of previous revenue streams for artist organizations that appear to be undermined through exemptions and changes. The most noticeable impact is the government's decision to not extend the private copying levy on not just CDs but ebooks, iPods and other playing devices. This has been a good revenue stream for the artists.

Maybe my colleague could indicate whether he has been lobbied by some of the artists and whether some of them have called or emailed him on this issue. It is a big issue for the artists not only within my riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing where I happen to have a lot of artists in the area, but across the board.

Perhaps the hon. member could also talk about the New Democrats' position on copyright on the basis of principles and compensation to access.

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5:05 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, our critic, the member for Timmins—James Bay, explained this very well in his speech. In fact, artist compensation is a very important component of this whole equation. He took considerable time this morning to explain how, as technology changed, people in the country were alarmed that a certain business model was coming to an end, but the companies adapted.

Years ago the Pony Express delivered mail across the United States. When the telegraph came in that put it out of business. When the telephone came in it replaced the telegraph. The one constant is that technology will change and we need to adapt to the new technology.

The key is to not tie ourselves up in litigation by bringing in legislation that will involve all sorts of lawsuits and lawyers. The idea here is to facilitate commerce so that the public is well served, but the artists get their fair share of compensation as well. That is the whole idea behind having a workable piece of legislation in this country. I think we can do it if there is a will on the part of all parties to work together on this when it gets to committee. I know the Bloc has some serious issues and I do not know whether they can be resolved. Even In our case I do not whether we will get all of our issues resolved

. However, if we are positive about this and move forward, hopefully we can follow what we did with Bill C-11, the immigration legislation, and get a successful conclusion.

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5:10 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.

There is probably no bill in this House that has occupied more parliamentarians' time than this one, not just in this particular session of Parliament but in previous sessions of Parliament. We have debated and debated this issue but we cannot seem to get it right. There have been several bills in the past, introduced in previous sessions of Parliament.

We have read the bill and we have serious concerns with it. However, we think it merits going forward to committee where it can have the proper study, the proper hearings and we can hear from the stakeholders groups and hear their concerns. We have already heard mixed reviews of the bill from different groups.

We want to see how we can make this bill a better bill for all Canadians. Canadian artists and consumers across the country are demanding action on this very important issue and they are looking to all of us for leadership. It is unfortunate that we have taken so long to get this legislation on track.

In Canada, we are in midst of a transition to a digital economy, which has a profound effect on our cultural industries. Our aging copyright laws have received international criticism and the longer we lag behind global best practices the more Canadian artists and Canadian consumers lose out.

We believe it is time for Canada to implement fair and balanced copyright modernization in order to balance the needs of creators and consumers.

We in the Liberal Party feel there are some serious challenges with this bill but that it merits going forward for further study at committee. We want to ensure that digital lock provisions allow Canadians who have legitimately purchased a CD, a DVD or other products have the ability to transfer their purchase onto their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long as they are not doing so for the purpose of the sale or transfer to others.

Many artists, writers and creators have also expressed deep concerns about issues like the new education provisions, mashups, statutory damages and compensation for resale rights. While we have deep reservations, we will be supporting this bill going to committee to hopefully address some of the concerns that I have raised and that other members of this House have raised.

We need to take this issue extremely seriously because there are artists, stakeholders and people in our society who are looking to us for leadership. We need to take their concerns seriously and address them as soon as possible.

We are supporting copyright modernization to protect the works and intellectual property of Canadian artists and creators. We want to see Canada's laws updated as soon as possible.

Several areas of concern have been raised and I think it is important that I also raise them to have them on the record so we can figure out how to deal with some of these issues. One issue concerns whether digital locks should trump all other rights for copy. Bill C-32 introduces new rights for Canadians to make copies for personal use, such as format shifting, transferring a CD to an iPod; time shifting, recording a show for later viewing; and making back-up copies.

However, in Bill C-32 the new digital lock provisions, the technological protection measures, TPMs, override these new rights. In other words, under this new law, if a company puts a digital lock on a CD, the people buying the CD will not be able to circumvent the law to put the music onto their iPod without breaking the law. This exact issue was a highly controversial change when Bill C-61, the Conservatives previous copyright bill, was introduced.

We are in a constantly moving, dynamic digital economy and we have a hard time catching up with all the changes. At times we question whether we should have no legislation or deeply flawed legislation. I am one of those who believes that we should have some legislation and that hopefully it will not be deeply flawed once it goes to the committee stage.

However, we need some type of protection because having nothing at the moment is embarrassing to Canada and it is not looking after the best interests of Canadians from coast to coast.

Passionate consumer concerns have been expressed with regard to the digital lock provisions and media stories are reinforcing the belief that the Conservatives are preventing Canadians from transferring their CDs onto their iPods. Canadians believe that when they buy a CD, they are buying the right to listen to that music in the format they choose, whether it is on their CD player, their iPod or computer.

There is an education component to this bill that is also of great concern. The new education exemptions for copying means that teachers and educational institutions could now make copies of work for some educational purpose and not infringe on copyright.

Broadly speaking, the bill proposes to implement two major changes. It introduces making copies for educational purposes as an exemption under Canada's fair dealing rules and introduces several specific distance education exceptions to allow for copies used for lessons communicated to the public by telecommunication for educational or training purposes, if that public consists only of students who are enrolled in a course.

There is growing opposition to the broad fair dealing exemption. Writers and publishing groups in particular are very opposed. Because fair dealing is so broad but what is fair, the writers and publishing groups believe the new exemption will give teachers and educational institutions a blank cheque to make copies of their work to give to their students. They believe teachers and educational institutions should have to compensate creators for their work. In particular, why should private, commercial educational institutions be permitted to disseminate works for educational purposes without compensating copyright? This is not an easy issue. It is very hard to please both groups on this important contentious issue.

Groups, such as the Canadian Association of Student Associations, CASA, and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, AUCC, have advocated for the education fair dealing exemption. Educators, whether they are post-secondary or K-12, have traditionally tried to make free copies of works for students claiming that they were infringing copyright under the fair dealing exemption of private research and study. The dissemination of works for students, however, stretches the concept of private research and study.

Furthermore, some teachers want to be innovative. An example is a teacher wanting to show a one minute clip of a movie to make a point but he or she cannot now without paying high copyright fees.

Essentially, CASA and the AUCC want to have a clearer delineation of fair dealing to allow them some clear and reasonable freedoms to use copyrighted material in certain circumstances. CASA and AUCC, however, are also pursuing this route to avoid expensive fees and course packs that charge up to $45 per person for copyrighted material for classes.

We can see that a lot of groups are depending on us to get this legislation right. We want to reward our artists and our artist community, not punish them. We also do not want to punish students.

I realize that these are very complex issues but it is time that we collectively work together to ensure we get this one right.

This fair dealing change, however, could have profound effects on the creation of textbooks, particularly in Quebec. Textbooks are specially designed in Quebec and, given the small size of the education market, copyright fees are quite high in order to recoup expenses. Allowing the fair dealing copying of even sections of textbooks in Quebec or in other parts of the country would significantly reduce the compensation authors receive.

Further, how far can exemptions be applied? Could a teacher make a copy of an entire movie and show it in class and not pay copyright fees based on the premise of education?

It was so much easier once upon a time when teachers could show movies without any issues of breaking the copyright law and so forth, but we have moved into such a new digital age that we have to figure out how we can be innovative and at the same time be fair.

The mashup section, clause 22 of the bill, creates an exception for mashups and user-generated content. An example of the mashup is a personal movie produced using movie and music clips combined with personal video and then posted on YouTube, for example. The clause, however, is too broadly written.

Under this rule, an individual can post an entire movie on YouTube and as long as the person adds a small inserted clip at the beginning or the end, he or she can call the video a mashup. We believe the language in Bill C-32 must be tightened to ensure that mashup exemptions cannot unexpectedly create a loophole for further copyright infringements.

There is also the issue of statutory damages. Clause 38.1 of Bill C-32 defines new statutory damages of $100 to $5,000 for all non-commercial infringements of copyright. Many stakeholders have expressed concerns about this section and believe applied statutory damages must be commensurate with the severity of the infringement.

As well, there is public exhibition of art. Currently, paragraph 3(1)(g) of the Copyright Act defines the right to present at a public exhibition an artistic work created only after June 7, 1988. The Liberal Party feels this is discriminatory to artists who created work before 1988, and we want to amend this part of the legislation.

There is the resale of art. Throughout Europe, artists are rewarded when their works are sold and sold again. Original art increases in value over time and artists feel a share of the increasing value should be returned to them upon resale of their works. In committee we wish to explore this European model.

Currently, copyright holders charge broadcasters for format shifting their works. A simple example of this is when a radio station purchases a song for broadcast. The current rules require the radio station to pay every time it plays the song but also when it transfers the song onto its computer server. Broadcasters want to simply pay once, whenever they play the song, and not pay again for the format shift being discussed.

The right of copy for format shifting, however, transfers approximately $21 million each year to artists and musicians, the creators of the works. Bill C-32 eliminates the ephemeral recording right from the Copyright Act, eliminating this compensation to creators.

Everyone can see that there are a lot of issues to be dealt with in committee, and we wish committee members all the best because this has been an ongoing issue as long as I have been in Parliament. We shall see if it actually gets resolved by the time this session is over. I certainly wish them all the best.

The stakeholder reaction, as I mentioned earlier, has been mixed. Michael Geist and consumer advocates oppose the bill, as the digital law provisions are considered overly restricting to Canadians who wish to download their CDs onto their iPods.

Some arts groups, such as the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, have supported Bill C-32 as a good step forward, but others, such as the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, ACTRA, and other Quebec arts groups have opposed Bill C-32 because it lacks a levy, inserts the new education exemption and is not strong enough on issues such as notice and mashups.

Large business groups like the chambers of commerce, the Entertainment Software Association and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives have expressed support for the bill.

Other information technology business groups such as Google, Bell, Rogers and others have expressed support for the bill's direction, but have expressed concerns about the digital lock provisions.

Several education stakeholders, like the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, have also expressed support for the education amendments but also concern with the digital lock provisions.

The Writers Guild and the Association of Canadian Publishers strongly oppose the new exemptions for education.

The Canadian Artists' Representation and many other arts groups are opposed to many parts of Bill C-32 and would especially like to have the resale right included in the new bill.

We have a bill that is quite complex. I will not use the word “mess”, although some others might say it is a mess, but we have been in this situation for a very long time. Certainly it has been debated over the last 10 years through various sittings of Parliament. With what the Conservative government is now bringing forward, different pieces of legislation have been changed. We had elections and then we had prorogation. All of that has killed past bills. A new bill has been introduced at this time and we do not know when an election is going to happen, but we will see what happens to the bill. If it actually makes it beyond the election, that would be great, but I have some reservations. I am hoping the committee will have an opportunity to look at these different issues and address them.

Canadians from coast to coast are looking for leadership from all of us. I do not want to see this as a partisan issue. We need to get copyright right for all Canadians. It is of great value for all of us.

So many people are depending on us to make the right decision, so I am hoping there will be co-operation at the committee. I am hoping we can all get together to work on this very important issue, bring it back to the House, have a final vote and then move it to the other chamber.

I cannot say how important this legislation is to all of us, and I am hoping that in the spirit of co-operation and with the limited space of a minority Parliament, we will have the bill passed before the next election.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for a great speech and to bring forward some points that I think are important.

The New Democratic Party's position on copyright is based on principles of compensation and access. Artists, as we have all said, need to be paid for their work and consumers should be able to access these works with the least amount of restriction.

We also support collective licensing. We support fair access to education materials. That is where I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question, because he talked about that.

Under the bill, for example, digital lessons for long distance learning must be destroyed within 30 days of a course. In our opinion, we feel this would treat students in digital learning environments as second-class citizens. It undermines the potential of new learning opportunities. Coming from a city that has three post-secondary institutions and provides education to many people throughout northern Ontario, I would like to hear my hon. colleague's comments about this aspect of the bill.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member made some very valuable points. They are important on the issue of compensation for our artists and access for education. There are a lot of valuable points he made that need to be clarified and addressed at the committee stage. I hope we will come back with a better bill than the one we have at the moment.

I do not have an answer to all his questions. These are things with which I have also been grappling personally as to what is the best direction. I am hoping that the collective wisdom of the committee will allow us to come back with a bill that will be supported by all of us.

I am one of those who strongly believe we have to have some legislation. We do not always get perfect legislation, but we need something with which to move forward.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There will be eight minutes left for questions and comments for the hon. member the next time the bill is before the House.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Federal Spending Power ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

moved that Bill C-507, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (federal spending power), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, on April 14, I had the honour and privilege of introducing Bill C-507, which proposes to rectify one of the biggest injustices of the current federalism: the fact that over the years the federal government has given itself an illegitimate power, the so-called “federal spending power”.

We are talking about a “so-called” power because it is nothing more than a federal government creation that has no basis in the Canadian Constitution.

The vast majority of jurists feel the same way. Nothing in the Constitution resembles this so-called federal spending power.

The great constitutionalist, Andrée Lajoie, is categorical about this and says:

...the expression “spending power” as used in Canadian constitutional discourse refers to the ideological affirmation of a non-existent federal power to spend in the provinces' areas of jurisdiction by imposing conditions equivalent to a normative intervention.

I find that to be an accurate and appropriate definition of this so-called power usurped by the federal government over the course of the past century. The definition contains all of the key elements. First, it states that there is no justification for this power under the Constitution of Canada, either the original 1867 version or the current version that was adopted, need I remind you, in spite of the unanimous opposition of the elected members of the National Assembly of Quebec, and that no Quebec government, federalist or sovereignist, has endorsed to date.

Then there is the fact that the expenditures in question pertain to areas of jurisdiction belonging exclusively to Quebec and the provinces and which, therefore, are not under federal jurisdiction.

Finally, there is the manner in which Ottawa has used these expenditures to assume unlawful oversight in Quebec's affairs, impose its standards and conditions, and lay the foundation for the paternalistic ideology we call “Ottawa knows best”.

The federal spending power is just a tool for justifying the federal government's centralist meddling, its hope for a unitary state and its dreams of reducing the provinces to simple administrative entities that Ottawa could relegate to the rank of subcontractors. Quebeckers will never accept that.

However, after this Parliament recognized Quebec as a nation, we would have expected it to concurrently recognize that a nation has collective rights, just as individuals have rights, and that they include the right to define one's own national identity.

The areas of jurisdiction belonging to Quebec and the provinces are instruments that provide an affirmation of identity and values and, to that end, unlawful federal interference, by means of the so-called federal spending power, must be seen and judged for what it is—an attempt to impose on Quebeckers values that are not our own.

Therefore, we should not be surprised that the provinces, except for Quebec, have practically never manifested their opposition to this so-called power because the federal government, the government of Canadians, has generally attempted to promote the values of the Canadian nation.

The federal government's illegitimate expenditures in areas under Quebec's jurisdiction fall into at least three categories. The first is conditional transfers—money that the federal government transfers to Quebec and the provinces—such as the Canadian health and social transfer. The second is direct services to the population. The third includes individual benefits and business subsidies in fields not under federal jurisdiction. The Canada Council for the Arts, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and research grants are examples of this.

Every Quebec government since Duplessis, whether Union Nationale, PQ or Liberal, has criticized this kind of normative interference.

And rightly so. Currently, the federal government spends over $60 million in areas not under its jurisdiction. This year, nearly one-quarter of the Quebec government's budget came from the federal government.

The federal government spends money on university research, education, health, social housing and parks. Now it is trying to impose a single securities commission.

Every time it does this, it is imposing its priorities, values and principles on Quebec. Those are Canada's priorities, values and principles, not Quebec's. For Quebec to exist as a nation, it must, at the very least, be in control of the levers and powers set out in the Constitution. That is why I will not accept the member for Beauce's lame reasons for voting against the Bloc Québécois's October 21 motion, which was essentially the same as Bill C-507.

The member for Beauce basically said that he did not support the Bloc Québécois motion because its intent was to destroy Canada. I have two things to say about that. First, it is yet another intellectual shortcut to equate the desire to build one's own country with the destruction of another. The difference between the two is fundamental. Sovereignists do not despise Canada, nor do we wish to destroy it or make it ungovernable. All we want is for Quebeckers and Canadians each to have their own country.

If I follow his logic right through to the end, to say that abolishing the federal government’s spending power would mean the destruction of Canada is to suppose that this alleged power is basic to Canada. Since this so-called power is illegitimate, illegal and unconstitutional, the only possible conclusion is that he thinks the foundations of modern Canada are illegitimate, illegal and unconstitutional. If that is the conclusion he wanted to reach, I can only say I agree. The supposed federal spending power is nothing less than the constitutional equivalent of the sponsorship program: nothing less than an indirect way for Ottawa to engage in nation building through dollops of millions of dollars in propaganda.

I hasten to add, though, in case there still any doubts in this regard, that our identity and allegiance are not for sale. Quebeckers will never sell their soul to the highest bidder. That is why the Bloc Québécois has been saying for years that such interference in Quebec’s affairs must stop. I want to emphasize that it should stop, rather than falling back on any notions of limiting the so-called federal spending power, as the Conservative government proposed before getting elected in 2006. Illegalities do not become more justifiable and legitimate, as if by magic, just because someone puts a limit on them. In any case, how can one limit a power that does not exist in the first place?

It is very amusing, therefore, to watch the federalist parties thrash about trying to find some justification for this illegitimate power—simply because they are federalists—when this power is the exact negation of the principles on which the Canadian federation is supposedly based. It is intriguing to see those parties all entangled in this paradox because they have only themselves to blame. They created it.

Their blatant inability to condemn the supposed federal spending power only reinforces the impression, which seems to get stronger every day, that the Canadian federation cannot be reformed and the only option still on the table for these federalists is the status quo. But that is unacceptable to Quebec.

The legislative changes in this Bloc bill are not radical in the least. Quite the opposite, they are intended simply to repair an error and an illusion that federal governments have been trying for decades to turn into a central principle. The supposed federal spending power is nothing more or less than the zenith of constitutional trickery. But Quebeckers are not fooled.

So how can this mistake be fixed? First of all, by doing an inventory of all federal spending in jurisdictions that belong to Quebec and the provinces. Next, by withdrawing, without any form of negotiation, from those jurisdictions and transferring the funds involved to Quebec and the provinces, unless of course, the federal government is given express written consent to continue that spending. Thus, opting out, as it is commonly known, would disappear, to be replaced by its counterpart, which I will call opting in.

In other words, the desired goal is to reverse the onus: instead of having to enter into long, painful negotiations every time, the federal government's exclusion from jurisdictions that are not its responsibility would become the norm.

In order to ensure that a province or Quebec is not shackled by a decision to opt in, these agreements would have to be renegotiated every five years.

Lastly, fair compensation must be given for all programs that would be returned to Quebec and the provinces, ideally by freeing up some of the federal tax room that the federal government unfairly has at this time and that means that the fiscal imbalance has definitely not been resolved, despite this government's claims.

If it were resolved, we would not be here discussing this bill, because the very existence of federal intrusions in our jurisdictions is the most indisputable proof of the fiscal imbalance.

In order to solve it, tax points would definitely have to be transferred so that Quebec would not have to beg the federal government for the financial resources needed to assume its responsibilities, which are more significant than federal responsibilities.

In fact, that is precisely what was recommended by the Séguin commission on fiscal imbalance, whose final report was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly.

Two of the commission’s main recommendations called specifically for the Canada health and social transfer to be replaced by a transfer of tax points, preferably from the GST but possibly from personal income tax, and for an end to the abusive, unconstitutional use of the supposed federal spending power in areas of Quebec and provincial jurisdiction.

Generally speaking, that is exactly what is proposed in the bill before us now.

Despite the fact these recommendations were approved by the National Assembly, despite the fact the Quebec nation was officially recognized right here in this Parliament, and despite the fact this bill provides a perfect opportunity for the federalist parties to demonstrate their good faith, I harbour few illusions about the fate that will befall Bill C-507.

Despite the goodwill they like to display and the rationales they always find to give themselves a clear conscience, the federalist parties will always want the power to dictate to Quebec what path it should follow, ad that will be, always and forever, the Ottawa knows best approach.

By spending in areas of Quebec and provincial jurisdiction, the federal government imposes its priorities and its vision of a unitary country. But that is wrong. Canada is not a unitary country. It is a divided country, irredeemable divided, between two nations, the Quebec nation and the Canadian nation, not to forget the many first nations of course.

By spending in areas of Quebec and provincial jurisdiction, the federal government tries to iron out the differences, even though they are huge and very significant, between Quebec’s political choices and Canada’s political choices.

Quebec has decided, in particular, to adopt the most progressive social policies in North America. The federal government tries, however, in every way to meddle in Quebec’s social affairs, generally by adopting a poor copy of what is done in Quebec and then imposing its own conditions and standards if Quebec wants the funding.

People who defend this attitude generally say the federal government’s supposed spending power is like a present that Quebec and the provinces are free to accept or reject.

But the supposed presents from the federal government are paid for with money from Quebec taxpayers. What a gift.

Quebeckers are told they are being given a present, but they are the ones paying for it. The worst thing is that the people who defend this do not even realize how absurd their rationale is. If they do realize it, they invoke all kinds of equally absurd principles to justify the unjustifiable.

Our proposal—like Quebec’s position for the last 60 years—at least has the merit of being clear.

In conclusion, I would like to say that Quebec is a young nation that has dreams and aspirations, just as people do. But because of Ottawa’s paternalistic, condescending attitude toward it, I am more convinced than ever that we will only be able to realize these dreams when we are completely and totally free, when we are a sovereign country.