Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.
I want to begin by saying that, as everyone knows, we have been waiting for this bill for a long time. We need this bill, we want it and we have been waiting for it. The government was elected two years ago, and we are just now beginning to debate this bill at second reading.
Nevertheless, as they say, “better late than never”. Now is our chance to debate it, and we must do so. Over the past few years, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party have tried to introduce bills. Once again, this one comes from the Conservative government. It was a long time coming, but it is here now, and we will debate it.
We need this debate because we have to modernize the Copyright Act. I am sure everyone will agree that is necessary. This legislation must be modernized and adapted to the reality of the century we live in, the 21st century.
We need legislation that takes into account the technological changes that have already happened and will continue to happen at a dizzying pace. We need only consider everything that has happened over the past 10 years and all of the new products that have come to market. For example, consider the role of the iPod, the iPad and all of the other new devices that did not exist 10 or 15 years ago. Today, everyone uses these devices to listen to music and watch movies. We have to take into account the extraordinary technological changes in terms of platforms, production and dissemination.
That is why we need legislation that reflects these changes. We also need legislation that protects the rights of creators and artists. That has become even more important in the digital age now that everything happens so quickly.
It is just as clear that we need legislation that sends an unmistakable message to the international community, legislation that shows Canada takes copyright seriously and promotes and protects those rights. That is the most important part of this.
Unfortunately, we are dragging our feet. We are lagging behind. In some ways, we are looked down on by the international community. All too often, we are being singled out as a bad example. That needs to change.
The law needs to be modernized for all of the reasons I listed, but also to allow us to ratify certain international treaties that are of significant importance to us and our allies.
In preparation for the debates surrounding the passing of this bill, I decided to travel across Canada to meet and talk with those directly or indirectly affected by this important issue. Other members did the same. I am thinking about my colleagues from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology as well as my colleague and our industry critic, the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, who has done incredible work on this issue.
As I was saying, I travelled from one end of Canada to the other in order to meet with the people concerned by this significant bill. I met people in Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, Regina, all over, in fact. I could list them all, but it would take too long because there are more than 100 groups.
I will simply say that I met with people from the film, television, production and music industries. These are artists, musicians, Internet service providers and others. Over the past several months, I have had extremely productive and worthwhile discussions with people from all of the provinces, except Alberta, where I will be next week to discuss this very important bill.
We need to talk in a fair and balanced manner about this copyright modernization bill. We have to find a delicate balance between the important needs of creators and the needs of consumers, which is not easy. Unfortunately, numerous critics are already speaking out against this bill. They come from everywhere—Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia.
Creators and copyright owners are afraid that this bill will undermine their current rights. That is one fundamental aspect that we need to examine closely. While the bill is a step in the right direction in some cases, is there not a chance that it will undermine or eliminate some existing, protected rights in other cases?
That is an absolutely fundamental issue that must be addressed, and we will take the time to do so. And just because the government took so long to introduce this bill, that does not mean we will examine it hastily and without taking a step back. That would be irresponsible on our part. On the contrary, we will take the time to consult all the stakeholders involved in order to come up with a bill that is fair and balanced and that really protects copyright owners. Thus, we will meet with several people with whom members of the Liberal caucus have already met, and others with whom we have not yet had the opportunity to meet. This could all be done in committee.
Copyright is a vast, complex and rapidly changing subject. On this side of the House, we understand that it has a real impact on artists, writers, poets, filmmakers and musicians, as well as on video game makers, photographers, merchants, producers, Internet service providers and of course consumers. Copyright has an impact on many people and industries, and we must take that into account. We also need to make sure we have long-term legislation that will not need to be replaced tomorrow, since it is so hard to reach a consensus. Furthermore, the proposed legislation must be as neutral as possible in terms of technology.
Clearly, finding common ground when so many different parties are involved will demand some compromises, but they must be fair and balanced. In order to achieve this, we need to have frank, open discussions from beginning to end.
At this time, I would like to mention some of the issues that were raised during my cross-country visits and some points that were raised during meetings here in Ottawa with stakeholders from the cultural community and from industry.
I want to raise some of the important concerns and questions that we should be debating, especially with regard to digital locks. For example, should these famous digital locks prevail over all other rights to make copies? That is the question because Bill C-32 includes new rights that authorize Canadians to make copies for personal reasons, including format shifting, time shifting and back-ups. Nonetheless, the new provisions in the bill having to do with digital locks take precedence over these rights. In other words, to be clear, under the new legislation, someone who buys a CD on which a company has installed a digital lock cannot get around this lock in order to transfer the content of the CD to another format without breaking the law.
I know that is a bit technical, but it is a fundamental aspect of the bill and we must debate it. It is also extremely contentious and was highly contested when the Conservatives introduced their other bill, Bill C-61. We have already heard many protests and discussions on this aspect of the bill. It is clear that this point needs to undergo further review, and we believe that amendments will need to be made in committee.
The second point has to do with education. Bill C-32 contains new exemptions that allow teachers and teaching institutions to make copies of works for educational purposes without copyright infringement. This blanket exemption from fair dealing rules is facing growing opposition from the various cultural communities.
Given the comprehensive nature of fair dealing, writers and publishers, for example, believe that this new exemption will permit teachers and educational institutions to make copies of their works at will and then give them to their students. Will that happen? Is that really what will happen? We will have to see and study the bill, but I can say that many people believe that teachers and educational institutions should be required to pay royalties to creators for the use of their works. I find this to be a fair and consistent position.
Let us go a little farther. How should this exemption be applied? Should a teacher be able to claim that a copy of an unedited version of a movie was made and shown to a class for educational purposes and not pay a royalty? We have to ask the question. Is that the case?
We realize that it is important to modernize the act so that teachers can apply it in the digital age. But we also believe that authors and creators are entitled to be compensated for the use of their works and for what they have created. That is clear. We will want to discuss this in committee as well.
Similarly, we will have to clearly define what constitutes “fair” dealing, as it is used in the bill. I ask the question and we will ask it in committee. What are the limits and the parameters that apply to the term “fair”? We must answer this question.
The third point has to do with mashups, or user-generated content. Clause 22 of the bill provides for an exception for mashups and user-generated content.
What is a mashup? A mashup is, for example, a personal video produced by combining excerpts from films and sound recordings and then posted on YouTube or a similar site. That happens.
In our opinion, the wording of this clause is far too broad. With this rule, someone could post the full version of a movie on YouTube. All they would have to do is add an excerpt at the beginning or the end and call the video a mashup. That seems a bit too broad. We want to define this and debate it. This point will also have to be carefully examined in committee.
The fourth point has to do with the statutory damages in the bill. Clause 38.1 of the bill provides for damages of between $100 and $5,000 for all copyright infringements for non-commercial purposes. Members will understand that we have some concerns here. It seems logical to us that damages related to copyright infringement should be in proportion to the seriousness of the infringement. That is also something that will have to be analyzed and studied in committee.
The bill also leaves a few things out, such as the public display of art, for example. Currently, if an artist displays a piece of art in a public space for reasons other than to sell it, they receive compensation. However, if the work was created before 1988, the artist does not receive compensation; they do not receive a penny. We need to use this opportunity to fix this situation, which we find to be discriminatory.
Another thing that has been forgotten is the resale of artwork, or resale right. Across Europe, artists are compensated when their works are sold and resold. Everyone knows that original art increases in value over time. Artists become more and more well known and the value of their works increases. Artists feel, and rightly so, that part of this increase in worth should come to them upon resale. It already exists in Europe.
When this is studied in committee, we would like to look at what has happened in Europe to see how Canadian artists could be more fairly and equitably compensated for their work. We believe that our artists' efforts are no less valuable that those of their European counterparts.
There are many other points that I would like to raise, but I do not have the time. However, I will definitely raise them in committee. We just need to remember that this bill has some good points but also some flaws and, in certain cases, leaves things out altogether. We will work hard to improve it.