Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Manicouagan.
We are very pleased to see that this government wants to take action to modernize the Copyright Act. These changes are long overdue. We are open to making changes. However, we would be even more receptive if the result was a balance that would benefit all stakeholders. The problem is that, contrary to what the government is saying, there is no balance in Bill C-11, as was the case for its predecessor, Bill C-32.
This bill will have fairly significant repercussions for authors, artists and consumers. Once again, despite the fact that the government says that the bill is balanced, we see that various associations and very important organizations representing the stakeholders do not concur.
First, let us talk about authors. We believe that they stand to lose the most with Bill C-11. The majority of writers' associations were opposed to Bill C-32 and now are opposed to Bill C-11, and with good cause. I would like to talk about one organization in particular, DAMI©, which is based in Montreal. DAMI© stands for Droit d'auteur Multimédia Internet Copyright. It is the umbrella organization for 13 professional associations of artists, authors, performers and copyright collectives. DAMI© represents 50,000 cultural artisans who are members of these 13 associations. What did DAMI© have to say about Bill C-32, which, I repeat, is now Bill C-11, currently under review? It had serious misgivings about Bill C-32, especially because of the free use of works protected by about 40 exceptions, half of which are new exceptions being made with respect to the current act.
I would like to read an excerpt from the DAMI© submission on Bill C-32, which, I repeat, is very pertinent because this is the same bill now being studied as Bill C-11.
Thanks to this bill, teachers will be able to use protected works [we are obviously talking about education] in their classes without asking permission, and they will be able to reproduce their course work to broadcast it by telecommunication in the context of remote or distance teaching. They will also be able to reproduce works in their totality for the purpose of display on interactive whiteboards or computer screens. Schools will no longer have to pay royalties to record news programs for pedagogical purposes, to present films, or to perform plays, for which they will be able to reproduce the sets, costumes, and lighting designs created by professional artists. This is a total expropriation of the intellectual property rights of creators in the educational sector. It is as if the government had declared that from now on literary, theatre, musical, and artistic works will be considered collective property.
This is in reference to education, but another important point to consider, especially at the university level, is the issue of the academic book market in Quebec. It is no secret that Quebec is an island of 7 million francophones in a sea of over 300 million anglophones in North America. The American book market serves primarily the Canadian English-speaking market. We need a strong academic book market in Quebec to be able to protect our culture, so that we can adapt or examine various issues—such as the economy, philosophy or other university subjects—from a Quebec and francophone perspective. This book market is small compared to the English-speaking American and Canadian market. It must fight against assimilation and against greater integration of these books that are quite often translated into French, but do not reflect Quebec's point of view or a francophone perspective, even in Canada.
This bill could end up further weakening the academic book market in Quebec—for university texts, for example—and creating even more problems for this market. The industry in Quebec will have to face more challenges if it wants to survive.
What justification will be given if the across-the-board use of photocopying is permitted or there is no adequate compensation for the authors of these books, as mentioned by DAMI©? What motivation will Quebeckers, and francophones across Canada, have to write a book that truly reflects the francophone and Quebec philosophy, vision and point of view? There will be no such books in the future.
This bill represents a real threat to an industry that is living on borrowed time in Quebec. That is why we are calling on the government to work with us to establish greater balance in this bill and ensure that all stakeholders benefit, not just the companies that own intellectual property, which are heavily favoured at this time. In response to our government colleagues’ comments, this to a large extent explains why they have the support of John Manley, among others, and it will come as no surprise that he is the president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. However, they will not have the support of authors' organizations, artists' organizations and copyright collectives.
Nor will they obtain, despite what they claim, the approval, the consent or the support of consumer associations. As it stands, the bill does not permit consumers to make backup copies or transfer the documents they have purchased—content for which they have paid and enjoy certain consumer rights—to other formats. The Writers Guild of Canada, among others, raised this problem. This organization stated that the only option that Bill C–11 gives creators is the addition of a digital lock, which has the effect of impinging upon current revenue streams for creators and creates a defect in the bill by depriving consumers of the very rights that are guaranteed them elsewhere in the bill.
The government said it was giving copyright owners a tool for developing and marketing their products and earning an income. It said it was protecting creators against acts of piracy. Although it is true that digital locks worked or can work when it comes to software, they are too restrictive and very unpopular when it comes to entertainment content. They risk being discriminated against by market rules, as they were in the case of music. Digital locks do not allow for progress and do not help defend the interests of consumers and creators. At best, digital locks will simply block current sources of income for creators.
This income is nevertheless very important. If this bill passes in its current form, authors, artists and cultural artisans could lose more than $125 million in income a year. That is why we are calling on the government to work with the NDP in order to amend the bill. We welcome the desire to modernize legislation, especially since this modernization has been a long time coming, but it has to be done properly. Unfortunately, Bill C-11, as currently worded, does not benefit all stakeholders equally. We want to work with the government to ensure that everyone benefits and to modernize the Copyright Act in a coherent and lasting way.