Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the importance of this bill on modernizing copyrights. As a member of Parliament, I have spent a number of years working with my colleagues from all the parties to ensure that our country can support authors and copyright owners. That is an important principle.
We are at second reading of Bill C-32, which the government wants to move forward. This is not the first time we have seen such a bill. Before 2008, the government at the time introduced Bills C-60 and C-61, but they did not make it through. It is not true that these bills had a number of flaws and problems.
We are here today to talk about the importance of a bill that recognizes the changes going on in the increasingly technological world we live in.
The purpose of this bill is to modernize the Copyright Act to bring it in line with the digital age. I must mention some of the important changes that are being proposed. There are changes that would authorize individuals to make copies for personal use, such as recording television shows or transferring music onto an iPod or computer. There are also new rules that would make it illegal for individuals to circumvent a digital lock or a technological protection measure.
Furthermore, the bill gives new responsibilities to Internet service providers, which will have to inform copyright owners of a potential infringement of the copyright. As a party, we note the new exceptions regarding fair dealing for educational uses, for parody or for satire that are included in this bill.
Canada is definitely in the midst of a digital transformation. The dawning of the digital economy is upon us and it will no doubt have, and has had, profound impact on industries, especially our cultural industries.
It is clear that our aging copyright laws have received significant international criticism, which is not to be underestimated. The longer we remain behind in global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. This initiative brings into play our international relations as well as the interests of consumers.
There are obviously a lot of ideas about what is in the best interests of consumers, and this is going to require serious attention in committee, where informed, serious debate will be held with a number of stakeholders, and all points of view will get a clear hearing.
We have all received significant lobbying from individuals, interested parties, stakeholders, and experts in this field. I appreciate these interventions because they are significant. This legislation and the work that we conduct in committee will, I hope, do justice to the attempts by many people to bring forth a better copyright law here in Canada.
A number of concerns were expressed by my colleagues prior to my taking the floor. Because of time considerations, I will not repeat them. Rather, I will focus on areas that my party and I believe are extremely important.
This is not a new issue for me as a member of Parliament. For a number of years, going back to 2006-07, I attempted to bring together an all-party copyright committee that would look at these issues.
I sat on the industry committee, where I am still a member, when we issued two reports on copyright, contraband, and other issues that were important to manufacturing and the evolution of technology, which we viewed in a context of modernizing our economic instruments.
Digital lock provisions allow Canadians who have legitimately purchased a CD or DVD or other products to transfer their purchase to their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long, and I think this is the caveat, as they are not doing so for the purpose of sale or transfer to others.
That is what the legislation is looking to do. It distinguishes private personal use and commercialization. In some areas, a simple firewall can be established, but it is not clear and it becomes more clouded when we are dealing with new technologies and new electronics.
Many artists, many songwriters, many creators of art have expressed deep concern and substantial reservations about issues such as the new education provisions in this copyright legislation. They are concerned about mashups, statutory damages, and compensation for resale rights. While we have deep reservations, we will support this bill's going to committee and look for an opportunity to address the many concerns that have been brought forward.
We know the question of copyright is fundamental. It is important and must be treated with the same degree of seriousness that the public always expects from Parliament in enabling and modernizing legislation.
I explained earlier that Canada's shift to a digital economy has huge spinoffs for our cultural industries. I also mentioned that our copyright laws have been criticized internationally and that the more we drag our feet on global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. We have obviously taken into consideration the fact that numerous artists, writers and creators have also expressed serious concerns about certain points, such as the new provisions concerning education, mashup applications, statutory damages and payment for resale rights. Despite these concerns, we are trying to make sure that this bill makes it to committee, where much more work can be done.
Since it was tabled, this bill has received staunch support and strong opposition from various stakeholders. The Liberal Party obviously supports modernization. However, concerns have been raised about numerous areas. The first is whether digital locks should take precedence over every other right to copy. The bill we are debating today, Bill C-32, provides for new rights authorizing Canadians to make copies for personal use, including format shifting—transferring content to a CD or iPod—as well as time shifting and making backup copies. The new provisions concerning digital locks take precedence over these rights. In other words, under the new law, a person who buys a CD that has had a digital lock on it cannot circumvent that lock to transfer the content to an iPod without breaking the law. Obviously this has given rise to some discussion. It is an extremely controversial point that was already contested when the Conservatives introduced their previous copyright bill, Bill C-61.
As a party, we obviously have concerns. As well, consumers have been passionate about sharing their fears about the digital lock provisions. We listened to these fears and we will listen to them again.
Other areas we would look at in Bill C-32 would be education. It has been mentioned here before, but the legislation introduces exemptions for copying, meaning teachers and institutions of higher learning. Education can now make copies of some work for education purposes and not infringe on copyright.
Broadly, the bill would implement two major changes. It would introduce making copies for education purposes as an exemption under Canada's fair dealing rules. It would also introduce several specific distance education exceptions to allow for copies used for lessons, communicated to the public through telecommunication for educational or training purposes. That public consists only of students who are enrolled in a course.
I think we can appreciate that there is in fact a growing concern and opposition to broad fair dealing exemption provisions. Writers and publishing groups in particular are very opposed. Fair dealing is so broad that question really becomes, what is in fact defined as fair? The writers and publisher groups believe new exemptions will give teachers and education institutions a veritable blank cheque to make copies of their work and to give it students. They believe teachers and educational institutions ought to compensate creators for their work.
In particular, one of the questions that arises is why private commercial education institutions should be permitted to disseminate works for education purposes without compensating copyright.
I do not need to get into the number of associations and groups that have advocated fair dealing exemption. They have to be taken in the context of the concerns that have been registered by those who freely and rightly create and ask that they be compensated for their work.
There again is another area that falls into what we consider the not so black and white debate about copyright. It is important for us to take and weigh both of these in accordance with the spirit of what the bill tries to achieve.
It would appear that another area we need to look at is the area known technically as mashups, and it is not something one would prepare at a dinner. It is the creation of an exemption for user-generated content where a personal movie is produced using music clips combined with personal video. Then, as some do, it is posted on YouTube.
In our view, this section is too broadly written. Under the rule, individuals can post an entire movie on YouTube as long as they add a small inserted clip at the beginning or the end. Then they can call the video a mashup. It is kind of the exemption given in this kind of circumstance.
We believe the language in this proposed legislation should be tightened to ensure that the mashup exemption cannot unexpectedly create what appears to be a loophole for further copyright infringement.
We are also concerned about the question of statutory damages. I raise this because I have not heard many other members talk about this point. The bill defines a new statutory damage provision of between $100 to $5,000 for all non-commercial infringement copyright.
A number of people to whom I have spoken, and who have come to meet with members of Parliament, have expressed concern about this section and believe applied statutory damages must be commensurate to, equal to and proportional to the severity.
That is an important factor that we must consider at committee. We may have differing opinions as to how these issues are going to be resolved. It would appear that the committee is going to be cast, once again, with having to judge two, or three or several very weighty issues.
The resale of art is also a new issue that has not really had a lot of attention, but it is one that leaves Canadian artists in a position of distinct disadvantage. As members will know, throughout Europe and in some parts of Central and Latin America, 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 increase in value should be returned to them upon resale of their works.
At committee, we may wish to explore the European model or the European experience and see how Canadian artists can be better compensated for their work. Considering the level of interest that has now been brought forward, I am sure this is an area that our party and areas in other jurisdictions will be certainly interested in modelling as well.
It is clear that ephemeral recordings also present concerns for members of Parliament and will concern Canadians. To put that in perspective, currently copyright holders charge broadcasters for format-shifting their works. A simple example of this is a radio station that might purchase a song for broadcast. The current rules require the radio station to pay every time the radio station plays the song but, more important, when it transfers the song on to its computer servers.
As we know, modern radio stations are changing and these are being done in a way that outmodes and makes less necessary the old way of throwing a record on and paying someone at the end of the day. These are done and filed. Broadcasters want to simply pay once. Stations, whenever they play a song, do not want to pay again and again. The format shift, which is taking place will obviously do this time and time again, leaving artists without the traditional revenue stream they could once expect, basically as a result of changes in technology.
The right of copy for format-shifting and transfers is approximately $21 million each year to artists and musicians, creators of the works. Bill C-32 eliminates the ephemeral recording rights in the Copyright Act, eliminating this compensation to creators.
While I sit the industry side of things, we can all appreciate the importance of Canadian culture, Canadian music, Canadian songwriters and the great impact they have made as a result of these kinds of arrangements, constructed in large part by Parliament in previous times. We know the Canadian recording industry is sound and strong. We are very proud of it and we have to do everything we can, in modern times, to ensure it is effectively and equitably safeguarded.
I believe there is the basis in the country for solid rewrite and review of copyright. It is long overdue. Members of Parliament may have differing opinions as to where and how we view effective copyright legislation, but I think we recognize that as the world changes, as technology evolves, so must the panoply of laws and the framework that allows us to change with changing times. That is the pragmatic approach, which the bill will require in order for it to be an effective response to the demands, needs and realities that society, that those in the industry as well as those artists expect.
I am not only looking forward to the questions, but I am looking forward to the opportunity, with some of my colleagues in the House of Commons, to frame and to craft legislation that may meet those expectations. I am not saying that the bill is the be-all and end-all. It is a very important step and the first step in the right direction. It has a long way to go, but it is nevertheless a critical and very important and timely step.
I look forward to Parliament approving second reading and getting this to committee where the experts then have their work cut out for them. We can hear from Canadians and meet those expectations.