Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.
Copyright legislation, the issue of digital locks and Bill C-32 have accompanied me from the beginning of my political journey a couple of years ago.
I live in a riding that has a large population of post-secondary students, and when I said I was running for the nomination in the riding, many of them wanted to talk to me about Bill C-32 and the concerns they had over the digital lock provisions in that bill. These are students. These are text savvy people. Many of them are the next generation of artists and creators. The bill is important to me.
Copyright is at the heart of how our society treats creators, artists, musicians, and composers. It is very important that we recognize their contribution, that we value what they have created, and the value that it brings to our society.
My brother is one of these people. He is a musician. He is a jazz saxophonist. He teaches for a living. He plays. Sometimes he records. It matters to me a lot that our artists are treated fairly.
However, every time technology changes there is a need to modify copyright law. A very simple example of that is photocopying. When it becomes much easier to copy a book, we have to think about what that means for protecting written material. When it becomes very easy to copy music, we have to think about how to adjust our copyright laws. One thing that has happened in the past to deal with that adjustment is that a levy has been imposed on the sale of cassettes and CDs to compensate artists for the work they have done.
Now we are in an age where technology has changed again, very radically. I am sure that when I was a young person, nobody had on their desks all the things I have: a phone, a couple of computers, and so on. Technology is all around us and we can copy all sorts of digital material from one device to another.
It is very important that the legislation before us is technology neutral. Probably the best way to talk about technology as far as this legislation is concerned is just to ignore all the technology in front of us and just think about all the copies of digital materials in the cloud, on the Internet. We do not even have to think about the hardware in front of us.
It is important to have digital locks, since a lot of copyrighted material, material that is created by our artists, writers, musicians, is in the cloud, but we can improve this legislation as it pertains to digital locks.
The students I met with very early on in my political career were very quick to bring this to my attention, which is that digital locks should not trump the other rights that are being given to consumers in this legislation. Consumers should have the right to buy material and to copy it for their own use. Students should have the ability to have copies of materials so that they can learn.
A really good example of that is something my brother, the musician whom I want to get back to, related to me. I really did not appreciate it, but when he explained it to me, things suddenly became very clear. My brother says that the training, education of musicians today, as compared to, say, 20 years ago, is radically different. The reason why it is radically different is because young musicians today can listen to a lot more music than they could have 20 years ago, a lot more variations of music from around the world.
That is because of the Internet. Not only does the Internet allow a lot of different kinds of music and creative things to be brought to people, but a lot of creative people can communicate what they have created to others around the world through the Internet. This is a tool for the next generation of creators and artists and people who are creating.
This is really something special that has changed how artists, musicians and writers are being trained and educated. They are really able to immerse themselves in what is happening around them and what has been in the past as well.
I think it is very important that we take a bit of time. I hope this happens in committee, if the bill goes to committee. We must be more careful about defining fair dealing and education. I am not so sure what my brother related to me, this training of musicians which is not necessarily in schools and not necessarily in a formal setting, if that is something that would be properly considered in a definition of education.
As far as fair dealing is concerned, there are definitions that we could incorporate into the bill. The Supreme Court has made rulings about what fair dealing means in certain cases and has established certain criteria. These criteria could, I understand, be incorporated into the bill.
That is why in the recent amendment that has been brought forward by my party there are two provisions. One is to first of all uphold the rights of consumers to choose how they enjoy the content that they purchase, to avoid the overly restrictive digital lock provisions that would seem to take away the rights that are being granted consumers in this legislation, which does not make sense. The second is to take some time and write down a clear and strict test for fair dealing for education purposes.
There is a lot of controversy over this legislation. There are people for it and against it, and it is probably because, in my humble opinion, the legislation could be made clearer. Forgive me for throwing out this example, but I often find that in my experience as a scientist, if people disagree about something we should really sit down and look at the numbers and write down the equations, put everything on the table and define the terms more carefully. Often, in the field of science and research a lot of disagreements melt away when definitions are made precise and people look at actual numbers and hard data.
It makes sense to me, from my experience, that if we were to take some time and write down clear definitions of fair dealing and education in the exceptions to the copyright protections in the legislation that we could probably resolve some of the controversy around the legislation.
The third provision in the reasoned amendment is that there are certain streams of revenue that will be affected by this copyright legislation. We should take some time and think about how the streams of revenue will be affected and think about providing transitional funding for artists who adapt to the changes and the loss of some revenue streams that would be caused by the bill.
These are the reasons why the provisions in the reasoned amendment make sense to me. That is why my party and I are supporting this reasoned amendment.